Debates of 13 Mar 2014

PRAYERS 11:10 a.m.


Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Hon Members,there is no Official Report for today, so we move on to Statements.
Hon Members, I have admitted one Statement standing in the name of the Hon Member for Adaklu.
Hon Member, you have the floor.
STATEMENTS 11:10 a.m.

Mr Kwame Govers Agbodza (NDC-- Adaklu) 11:10 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to draw the attention of this House to the plight of the public resulting from the closure of the Adomi Bridge at Atimpoku by the Ministry of Roads and Highways. The Adomi Bridge is a major access for travellers from the Eastern Corridor, the Volta Region and parts of Eastern Region.
The bridge was built in 1956. It is arguably the most impressive Architectural and Engineering piece on Ghana's landscape. Currently, over 3,000 vehicles cross the bride on daily basis.
Mr Justice J. Appiah (NPP -- Ablekuma North) 11:20 a.m.
Mr Speaker, the Adomi Bridge is a suspension bridge, the first of its kind in the then Gold Coast.
Mr Speaker, the bridge was built across the Volta River at Atimpoku up north of Senchi in 1956, by Sir William Halaw and
Partners and Freeman Fox and Partners - - and it was built by Dorman Long Bridge Engineering Limited.Mr Speaker, it has provided immense services to the people of this country. [Interruption.] I am referring to my notes because this is history. Mr Speaker, it provides immense services to the people of this country.
Mr Speaker, before I continue, there is a publication in today's Newspaper headed “Damaged motorway bridge causes traffic.” This is exactly what we see in today's issue of the Daily Graphic about a bridge on the Tema Motorway. Yesterday, there was a lot of heavy traffic on that Motorway. So, as we discuss the Adomi Bridge, we also have to factor --
Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon Member, please.
Mr Appiah 11:20 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, about 120,000 workers, traders and tourists use the bridge. Mr Speaker, we are appealing to the Ministry of Roads and Highways to speed up work in order to help our brothers and sisters from the Volta Region and all Ghanaians as well, so that, they can get safe travel to the Volta Region.
With these few words, I thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Mr Joe K. Gidisu (NDC -- Central Tongu) 11:20 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful to the Hon Member who made the Statement for raising this issue, taking cognisance of the challenges that have come up with the closure of the bridge since Sunday.
Mr Speaker, since the bridge disaster in the United States of America (USA) a few years ago, a satellite was put in orbit to monitor river crossing points all over the world. Unfortunately, the Adomi Bridge was picked up as one of the most dangerous river crossing points in the world, and for that matter, there was the need for Government to see how best they could remedy the situation.
Mr Joe K. Gidisu (NDC -- Central Tongu) 11:20 a.m.

This led to intervening measures by the previous Government leading to major rehabilitation works which had been sought under an Austrian Loan Facility which was approved by this House.

Mr Speaker, in addition to the loan, there was the need to look at issues that would arise out of the closure of the bridge and during the period of repairs. As rightly pointed out by the Hon Member who made the Statement, alternative routes were identified. Mr Speaker, though the alternative routes were identified as the Sogakope-Adidome-Ho road, there were other missing links on that road, which, hitherto, were not considered.

For that matter, there was the need to look at the whole stretch, and in the anxiety of the Government at the time to put the situation under control, three different contractors were put on various segments of the road. Mr Speaker, the unfortunate situation was that, the facilities for the execution of this project were contingent on Government of Ghana (GoG) and for the past years till today, significant works have been done on that stretch except for the Adaklu stretch which the Hon Colleague talked about.

Mr Speaker, what has led to the delay in the construction of the Adaklu stretch as well, was the situation of extending the road from Ho to Fume because that is also part of the Eastern Corridor, with the thought that, vehicles coming from the corridor could join the road from Fume and ascend through to Ho. This has affected the portfolio that was initially allocated.

Mr Speaker, I would want to give this background.

Coming down to the current situation, we have, Mr Speaker, the loan for the

ferries were contracted in this House as a commercial loan which ought to be paid back, and for that matter, the arrangement for the payments, I would not be privy to the details. But I know it was a commercial loan which had to be redeemed hence, the charge or the fees for the situation.

But Mr Speaker, as noted by the Hon Member who made the Statement, the current situation we have on hand needs an overhaul.
Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon Member, under the loan agreement which this House approved, how many ferries did we provide for? I would want us to limit the comments to the crisis at the Adomi Bridge right now. That should be the focus of the comments.
Mr J. K. Gidisu 11:20 a.m.
Yes. Mr Speaker, we have to look at the background before coming to the focus. The focus is that, two ferries were acquired, but unfortunately, why one should break down just a day after running is a technical situation I cannot account for. That is why the current challenges have to be addressed.
Mr Speaker, we all have to look at this situation. The education of the people under the corridor, though the Volta Region is the most immediate region linking that place, that is a corridor that traverses the Northern parts into the Upper East Region, linking Burkina Faso.
So, it is a situation that is of international concern and I would want to equally associate myself with the need for the Ministry of Roads and Highways to, as a matter of urgency, see what immediate interventions to make to arrest the current situation that prevails there, and also to forewarn the situation of the use of outboard motors.
If one goes there now, people in their desperation ignore the ferry and are using outboard motors without any life- saving jackets but this also exposes them to danger.
So, I would want to, as a matter of urgency, call on the Ministry to take this into account when bringing up the review of the situation there.
Mr Patrick Y. Boamah (NPP -- Okaikoi Central) 11:20 a.m.
Mr Speaker, once again, one of our iconic structures is under threat. The Adomi Bridge has a lot of history behind it. It serves a lot of farmers, poor traders and commuters across country. Mr Speaker, the question that I would want to pose is, whether our Engineers working at the Highways are at work, and what have they been doing towards the maintenance of this iconic bridge?
Mr Speaker, year on, the Ministry of Roads and Highways comes before the House with budgetary allocation; did they not know that this structure was having problems and that they should have taken the necessary steps to maintain it? We are being told that a whooping€13 million is needed or required to undertake this maintenance. It is going to span over 24 months.
The good people of the Volta River and beyond are going to suffer -- Eastern Region and all Ghanaians. So, if this bridge, which serves millions of Ghanaians, is going to be closed down for 24 months, its effect on Ghana's development and economic fortune is going to be hampered.
Fortunately, we have had the former Minister for Roads and Highways give us some deep insight into some loan facility
that this House approved. We do not know what happened to it and I am entreating the Government to take the necessary steps to bring this project back on track to enable the good people of Ghana enjoy it.
Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (NDC -- North Tongu) 11:30 a.m.
I am very grateful, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to support the Statement which has been ably made by the Hon Kwame Agbodza.
Mr Speaker, I am a Member of Parliament for North Tongu, and indeed, that is the first constituency, which more or less, is the gateway to the Volta Region and the Adomi Bridge has served my people very well. We have depended on that bridge for movement of persons and goods and the daily lives of my people depend on the Adomi Bridge.
I must say, Mr Speaker, as Member of Parliament (MP) for the area, I can place on record that, the consultations which such a major project would require, the closer of the bridge, the subsequent rehabilitation, the consultation was very minimal to say the least. The people of North Tongu are very disappointed about the way this whole process has been managed. It has brought untold difficulties, inconvenience and the needed alternatives that had to be created has not been created.
I do also know that our neighbours, that is, the Asuogyaman constituency are also complaining. I have been there and I have seen how our good neighbours are also inconvenienced by the closer of the Adomi Bridge and the measures that have been put in place.
What is very worrying, Mr Speaker, is the exhorbitant charges which have been introduced without any consultation. I am not even sure that this House has
Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (NDC -- North Tongu) 11:30 a.m.

approved those charges which members of the general public have been obliged to pay. Mr Speaker, your direction in this regard is very needed in this matter.

Saloon vehicles are being asked to pay a whooping GH¢10.00; metro mass buses are being asked to pay GH¢ 20.00. What that has caused is that, the drivers have transferred these charges on the innocent passengers and now it has distorted transport fares. One is not even sure what one would have to pay if one is using a taxi or public transport.
Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon Members, let us have order in the House.
Mr Ablakwa 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, the lack of consultation has even led to a situation where the names which have been given to the pontoons have become a source of tension. There is an issue about the border of the area between the Akwamus in Asuogyaman and the Dofos in North Tongu.
Instead of consultations to be done so that we would have stayed off this matter, one of the pontoons has been called “Old Akrade”. The Dofos also insist that that area is called Ogoli and so the pontoon should have been called “Ogoli” and not “Old Akrade”-- I had to intervene over the weekend.
There would have been clashes; the youth and the chiefs were very angry and up in arms. It is all because consultation was poor and I have had cause to discuss with the Hon Minister for Roads and Highways who, it can be understood, does not hail from the place and so is not aware of these local dynamics. But the point I am making is that, consultation has been poor and we ought to be very careful about how we proceed on this matter --
Dr A. Osei 11:30 a.m.
On a point of order. Mr Speaker, this is a very serious matter and I would crave the indulgence of the Hon Member to be specific about the issue about who has not been consulted so that Parliament would be seized with the information to assist in dealing with the project. It would help us.
Mr Ablakwa 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, when I say consultation has been poor, I refer to all stakeholders. Members of Parliament for the area -- I was never invited to any-- meeting. I am not sure my Hon Colleague from Asuogyaman was invited. My Hon Colleagues , the other Tongu Members of Parliament have also told me that they were not consulted. The chiefs have also complained, the people have complained and the Assembly Members for the area have all complained. As I said earlier, over the last weekend, some of us had to intervene to prevent a clash between the people of Ogoli and Old Akrade.
All of this is because, consultation has been weak. Mr Speaker, as I said, I am not sure whether we could proceed with the charges which the Ghana Highway Authorities have imposed on the people. We were all in this House; we have not been informed; these charges have not come here. I do not know whether it is allowed. We have also compared with what is charged at Dambai and it is as if this is on the high side.
So, honestly, I think that we can make do if we take our time and if there is proper consultation, we bring all the communities together.
There is untold hardship; there is tension; there is a looming conflict and if care is not taken, this whole thing would degenerate into something else. As the Member of Parliament for the area, I am deeply worried about how the engineers have proceeded to implement this closer of the bridge and the alternative arrange- ments which have been made. It is not the best and this House would have to step in to prevent what may be a calamity.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah (NPP -- Sekondi) 11:30 a.m.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to this Statement. It is a Statement that has come after the fight. We know that over the years, efforts have been made to rehabilitate the Adomi Bridge. I do not believe that the Adomi Bridge is the only strategic infrastructure that needs rehabilitation. So, it is important for us as a nation, to recognise that when we have infrastructure, we keep in tune with the renovation regiment.
This morning, I have heard a lot of things, like members of the public chas- tising leadership of this country over the years for failing to discharge their duties. I am urging the Ministry of Roads and Highways together with other agencies involved in the infrastructure to brief this House at a point in the future on the state of our infrastructure, particularly the strategic ones.
The Hon Member for North Tongu has raised some issues about failure of consultation. Incidentally, he is also a member of Government.
So, if a Member of Parliament of the area and a member of Government has raised these issues, then it means that there is serious lack of consultation among and between institutions of Government. That is the point I am making. Please, I am saying that, when it comes to some of these decisions, I would have wished that even before the closure, the Hon Minister would have briefed this House as representatives of the people on the major action that Government was going to take on this matter.
I am sure if he had made that statement, we would not have had these problems of absence consultation.
I appreciate that what the Government has done is right, it needs to be done. But going forward, we must appreciate that we can do things in a way that would
Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon Members, I thought I have heard enough from the Volta Region side. Let me hear from the others.
Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Yes, Hon Member.
Dr Kwabena Donkor (NDC-- Pru East) 11:40 a.m.
Thank you,Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute.
Mr Speaker, the breakdown of the ferry, as my Hon Colleague so ably stated, is an experience that those of us who live along the Volta River experience on a daily basis. As we speak, Mr Speaker, the Volta Lake Transport Company that operates these ferries has imported into the country 10 brand new marine engines over a three- year period.
The engines still sit in warehouses; they have not been installed and our ferries on the Volta River, at least, at Dambai and Yeji, including the new one at Krachi operate on one engine.
In fact, for the two ferries at Yeji and Dambai,they are not even marine engines.They are --
Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon Member, are you making comments on the Adomi Bridge? The Statement is on the Adomi Bridge, but you have taken us to Yeji and Dambai. [Laughter.]
Dr Donkor 11:40 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your direction.
Mr Speaker, the need to have good, well-maintained ferries as epitomised by the breakdown of the ferry at Adomi, is symptomatic of what we have across the riverain areas of this country and I rise to support the Hon Colleague and the Hon Deputy Minister that proper planning should be a demand that this House must insist on and proper briefing of the House before such major decisions are imple- mented.
Thank you for the opportunity, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Mr Henry K. Kokofu (NPP -- Bantama) 11:40 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Statement made by the Hon Colleague.
Mr Speaker, I cannot but sympathise more with the Hon Member who made the Statement and then the people who are so affected by the closure of the Adomi Bridge.
It is another classical example of the failure of State institutions to do their best to execute projects that they are mandated to do. It is a failure on the part of the Ghana Highway Authority and the Ministry of Roads and Highways that they are unable to do this. Exactly one week today, we had a President complaining about the Meteorological Department's efficiency,
and today, here we are with Hon Members of Parliament complaining about the efficiency of State Agencies.
Mr Speaker, these and many things are the reasons why some of us, when there are ambitious projects being talked about, we think those that the Government has started must be seen to be completed before we embark on any more ambitious projects.
Mr Speaker, I cannot but agree with the Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah that, as a matter of urgency, the Ministry of Roads and Highways should be brought to the House to explain to all Ghanaians what really the state of affairs is. We cannot as a people, continue to live this way where the Adomi Bridge is non-functional.
Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon Member for Afadzato South.
Mr Joseph Z. Amenowode (NDC -- Afadzato South) 11:40 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement made by our Hon Colleague, the Member of Parliament for Adaklu.
Mr Speaker, much has already been said on the effects of the repairs of the Adomi Bridge and subsequent delays in transportation of our people and goods from the Eastern Corridor to Accra. I would want to reiterate some of these, stating that, it must be borne clearly in the minds of all Ghanaians that, that bridge is not for the Volta Region, it connects Ghana to sub-region, northern parts of West Africa and the northern parts of Ghana.
So, it is a major international route and for that matter, it must be given the attention that it deserves. This is because, we know that right now, transport charges from the Eastern Corridor to Accra have multiplied.
The drivers are giving the excuse of waste of man hours for the charges. Fares which used to be GH¢14 to Accra, are now GH¢28.00. The drivers claim that they waste one whole day and so they have no alternative than to charge as such.
My plea is for the Ghana Highway Authority to do the following as a matter urgency:
1. It appears adequate preparations were not made to absorb the large number of vehicles that would ultimately be waiting at the banks of the River Volta. So, I urge the Highways to as a matter of urgency make adequate preparations for parking places.
2. We were informed that individuals have taken it upon themselves to create parking lots and are charging about GH¢ 2.00 per vehicle which is not the best. The Ghana Highway Authority should have known that there would be backlog of cars and prepared for this.
3. I would also want to urge the Ghana Highway Authority and the Ministry of Transport as a matter of urgency, to provide adequate places of convenience for passengers and other road users.
4.The Ghana Highway Authority should expedite work as has already been made clear by the Hon Member who made the Statement on the bad patches on the Adaklu- Adidome Road and also the Frankadua/Adidome road which is an alternative.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who just contributed has already attached this Statement to what is happening on the Accra-Tema Motorway, and the reason why I would also want to link this is that, having travelled and wasted about five --
Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon Member, we are on the Adomi Bridge, not the Motorway.
Mr Amenowode 11:40 a.m.
Thank you. Mr Speaker, I would want to state that, the man hours lost is increased when the people eventually are able to traverse the Volta River and come to the Motorway. So the Ghana Highway Authority should as a matter of urgency work on that one, too.
Mr Speaker, with these few words I thank the Hon Member who made the Statement and I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
Hon Members, I would take the last two.
The Hon Deputy Minority Whip and then the --
Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah(NPP-- Sunyani West) 11:50 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this Statement ably made by the Hon Member for Adaklu.
Mr Speaker, it has been a while since the loan for the repair of the Adomi Bridge was approved by this House. So, it is not like what is happening is an emergency. It was something which was thought of, so I am surprised that, the Ghana Highway Authority did not put in place all the necessary structures to provide an alternative means of transport for the people who use that particular route.
I have not been to the place but I have monitored media commentaries on what is happening there. I am told even lighting at the place in the night is a problem, and I am also worried at the fee which is being charged for those who are using the ferry.
Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Any point of order? Do you have a point of order?
Mr Joe Gidisu 11:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, very sure. I made the point that the loan for the ferries was a commercial facility on the advice of the Ministry of Finance and being a commercial facility, it is expected that the planning of the ferry would generate that amount for the payment —
Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Hon Joe Gidisu, this facility was approved by this House including the ferry and is it that if it is a commercial venture, anybody, the Govern- ment or the Ministry can fix any fees at all for the use of the ferry? Is that what you are talking about?
Mr Joe Gidisu 11:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, not that it is to be arbitrary, but the fundamental point is, so far as it is a commercial facility, steps should be taken by the Ministry to come
to the House to clear how much they would charge and —
Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
That is the gravamen of --
Mr Joe Gidisu 11:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, yes, but it is a commercial facility which the House cannot run away from.
Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
But the commercial facility is subject to the laws of this country.That is the point the Hon Member is raising. [Pause.]
Mr Awuah 11:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I think he has just confirmed exactly what I said. I think the people of the Volta Region and all users of that road -- let me even extend it to all Ghanaians who use that particular road - - should not suffer unduly because they have to use that road. It is no fault of theirs that the bridge should collapse. It is no fault of theirs that for two years, they cannot use the approved roads because we are doing a maintenance programme on that bridge.
If for anything at all, they should not be made to bear the brunt of the cost of the ferry. I think the Ghana Highway Authority should be more charitable to them. If for nothing at all, their fees should be brought to this House for the consideration of the House before they charge that.
Mr Speaker, this is what I want to add to the Statement.
Thank you.
Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Hon Member for Shai Osudoku?
Mr David Tetteh Assumeng (NDC-- Shai-Osudoku) 11:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I would want to associate myself with the Statement and I would want to sympathise with the public as a result of the sufferings they are going through. I
would want to urge the Ministry to speed up work on the proposed construction of the third bridge at the downstream of the Adome Bridge. I am aware that, the Japanese Government intends to give some grant for the construction of the third bridge near Asutsuare that would link Dofo Landing to Asikuma and then to the northern part of the country.
Mr Speaker, I would want to urge the Ministry to speed up work on this proposal so that, we can have a third bridge that would link the Adomi and Sogakope bridges to alleviate the suffering of people. If care is not taken, I believe there would be shortage of food and that would lead to rise in prices of foodstaffs and so we need to take this issue very critically and make sure that we achieve the needed result.
Thank you very much for the opportunity, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Hon Members, that brings us to the end of Statements.
But Hon Members, I think that very serious issues have been raised both in the Statement and on the floor of the House. Issues of whether the fees are backed by law have been raised. Issues of the fact that, instead of two ferries, only one is working, have been raised on the floor of the House. Issues of a likely boundary dispute as a result of the kind of signboards, or sign-posts that have been put at the place -- I would want to direct that the Business Committee arranges for the Hon Minister for Roads and Highways to brief the House.
Secondly, I direct that, the Select Committee on Roads and Transport moves to the site tomorrow. The Clerk should provide the necessary logistics for the Select Committee on Roads and Transport to—[Interruption.] For that I have resources. [Laughter.]
I have duly consulted the Clerk, so, the Select Committee moves to the site and briefs the Leadership, then we know the steps to take.
Hon Members, that brings us to the end of Statements. We thank you very much.
Hon Members, I have just received communication from the Office of the President.


PRESIDENT 11:50 a.m.



ACCRA 11:50 a.m.


OF GHANA 11:50 a.m.

Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
We now move to commencement of Public Bussiness.
Hon Majority Leader?
Majority Leader (Dr Benjamin B. Kunbuor) 11:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, thank you. We can take Item number 4 on the Order Paper.
Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Hon Members, Item number 4.
Dr Kunbuor 11:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, in doing so, I would like to crave your indulgence for the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance to represent the Hon Minister who has been held up at an important national security event.
Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Hon Members, presentation of Papers. Application has been made for a Paper to be laid on behalf of the Deputy Minister for Finance.
Very well, Hon Minority Leader.
Dr A. A. Osei 11:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, application was not made on behalf of the Deputy Minister. It was made on behalf of the Minister, for the Deputy Minister. But your statement says —
Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
Yes, sorry. Deputy Minister for Finance to lay the Paper on behalf of his Minister.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu noon
Mr Speaker, as if ordinarily I should not have any problem with the Deputy Minister laying the Paper on behalf of the Minister.
Mr Speaker, my worry is that, on the face of what I am seeing is the Credit Facility Agreement between the Govern- ment of Ghana and VTB Capital plc as Arranger and Facility Agent. Mr Speaker, I am not too clear in my mind what that is intended to mean.
So, I would plead with the Hon Deputy Minister when he lays it, given the time constraint that we have, to provide further illumination on this.
Mr Speaker, it is critical. So let him do it, we have no problem; but let him provide further --
Mr Speaker noon
Thank you very much but Hon Minority Leader, this is going to a Committee and when the Committee brings a report, all relevant issues, including yours, would be raised on the floor of the House.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu noon
Mr Speaker, I appreciate the point, but as you do know, our Orders provide that, when necessary, and given the constraints of time --
Mr Speaker noon
That relates to Bills.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu noon
Mr Speaker--
Mr Speaker noon
I thought that relates to Bills.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu noon
Yes, Mr Speaker, but I am saying that, given the time span we would have to deal with this, I would urge the Hon Minister to provide further illumination into this because I am confused.
Mr Speaker noon
Hon Minority Leader, do not worry, the time would come.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu noon
Mr Speaker, it gives cause for sufficient worry even at this stage.
Mr Speaker noon
Yes, Hon Majority Leader --
Dr Kunbuor noon
Mr Speaker, I guess that this procedural matter is covered by our Standing Orders. The Hon Minority Leader is raising sufficiently legitimate concerns which go to the substance but we are at the stage of the procedure for this Paper to be properly laid before the House, which can then become the subject of comment. Even if the process itself has a problem, it can still become a subject of comment when the substantive matter is being taken.
Mr Speaker noon
I agree entirely with you. That is what our rules say.
Hon Deputy Minister for Finance -- is it Finance or Defence?

Mr Speaker noon
Yes, Hon W. O. Boafo --
Mr Boafo noon
Mr Speaker, the substance and gravamen of this Agreement, a lot of peacekeeping operations and matters related to the Ghana Armed Forces. It is my prayer that, reference is made to the joint Committee on Finance and Defence and Interior.
Dr A. A. Osei noon
I rise to support the Hon Ranking Member in view of the fact that, I see we have some fine gentlemen visiting us in the Chamber. I think it is in order.
Mr Speaker noon
Hon Majority Leader --
Dr Kunbour noon
Well, Mr Speaker, I did have your guidance at some point on the possibility of discouraging joint Committees, I remember that this matter has been visited on this floor and the tenor of what I see is entirely a financial
transaction and our Standing Orders are clear. But if any other Committee can enrich the consideration of this matter, that would be at the discretion of Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker noon
What has been the practice in the House?
Dr Kunbuor noon
Mr Speaker, these matters --
Mr Speaker noon
This is not the first time a facility for the approval or for peacekeeping purposes have been introduced in the House. What has been the practice?
Dr Kunbuor noon
Mr Speaker, the nature of the facilities were varied at the time I was Hon Ranking Member. In some cases, we have not had a loan or financial facility simplicita as in this case. It has always come with some other policy considera- tions and in that, we have had joint Committees. We would have had the benefit of that, I think that was in 2006, when a similar facility was coming but subsequently -- [Interruption] -- for purchases of aircraft and then that did not go through. But when it is going to deal with the terms and conditions of a credit facility, it normally would go to the Finance Committee.
But having said that, I do not know whether there is anything very special that also goes to other strategic matters in relation to this particular facility that would require the technical input of another Committee.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu noon
Mr Speaker, I have no strong opinion against “including” or “not including” another Committee except in this case. Mr Speaker, that is why I was asking whether the Hon Deputy Minister could provide further illumination. Mr Speaker, if you read what
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu noon

is before us, they are saying that, the Credit Facility Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the VTB Capital Plc, is in respect of something that has been undertaken already by the United Nations Organisations and other agreed uses.

If it has already been done as provided for by what is before us, then it is important that we have the relevant Committee joined with the Finance Committee -- [Interruption] -- Mr Speaker, because the wording here says that it has already been done. [Pause]
Mr Speaker noon
Did you get the point being made by the Hon Minority Leader?
Dr Kunbuor noon
Yes, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, actually, the reason why I have advocated that this would best be handled by one Committee expeditiously is precisely because of what the Hon Minority Leader has said. There is a question of national obligations in this matter and it happens to be a conflict theatre in which Ghana's contribution on this matter is urgently needed.
I am also aware that, any further delay in Ghana fulfilling its own international obligations could come up. That is why I thought that because of, the exigencies of the matter, a single Committee that is focused essentially on the credit facility could handle it. But almost at any time, this House can even invite the Hon Minister for Defence to come and give us an update on how this has been used.
Mr Speaker, I am speaking from a lot of history. This is because, I happen to have handled this matter with the previous Government and we were given sufficient guidance as to this exigency. We did not know that we were going to arrive at that
point today, in which it would be better to go for some lease of equipment which the United Nations has been mentioned by the Hon Minority Leader, than be caught up in a situation in which they pay the lessor and the country does not benefit from the net arrangements.
Yet, if this facility would lead to the procurement which we can reuse in other theatres, we would have more than covered for the cost and cost effective- ness. That is why the urgency of this matter has come up.
Mr Speaker noon
Hon Members, before I call on any other Member to speak, I am trying to find out -- This is because of the point raised by the Hon Minority Leader, I have a copy of the document here and what I have here, the Memorandum to Parliament states:
“Credit Agreement between the Government of Ghana and VTB Capital for a total amount of three hundred million United States Dollars (US$300 million) for urgent peacekeeping operations”
I do know where they got this rendition from. We either amend the Order Paper to tally with what is on the document before us --
Mr Haruna Iddrisu 12:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, this is not the first time that a matter specific to a particular Committee in accordance with our Standing Orders -- you have so directed that it be examined jointly by a joint Committee. Accordingly, I believe that, this is a House of transparency.
I believe that we can have the joint Committee on Finance and at worse, you can recommend that the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the Defence
Committee assist the Finance Committee in their deliberation; maybe as a compromise, if the two Committees cannot look at it, so that they would bring some professional input to bear.
Mr Speaker, we do not need to be told; I can see behind me some respected officers of the Ghana Armed Forces and probably, they are here because this would affect them in a way. So, as a compromise, we can refer it to the Finance Committee, but per your directive, that the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the Defence Committee be in attendance to assist the Committee in its work.
Mr Speaker 12:10 p.m.
Hon Members, the point raised by the Minority Leader -- that is the point I would want Hon Members to address.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah 12:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, really, we have been quibbling over this matter on so many occasions. But our Standing Orders are clear about this. Order 171 (1) and Mr Speaker, with your permission I beg to read. It says:
“(1) When a Loan Agreement or an international business or economic transaction that requires the authorisation of Parliament through a resolution is laid before Parliament it shall be the duty of the Committee on Finance to examine the Agreement or transaction and make recommendations to the House.”
That is our Standing Order. So we ask ourselves, is the document an interna- tional business, economic transaction or a loan agreement which requires the authorisation of Parliament? However, that does not necessarily mean that Mr Speaker, in his discretion and upon the
agreement of the House, can not add any other Committee to it.
So, Mr Speaker, probably, you could let the Committee on Defence and interior but we have been faced with these situations before. When it comes to quorum, it may be a problem because you have to have one-third of all Members of the Committee attending and there have been practical difficulties when referrals have been made to joint Committees. But it is entirely up to Mr Speaker. --
Mr Speaker 12:10 p.m.
I have made the referral to the Finance Committee, but I am being urged to add the Committee on Defence and Interior.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah 12:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, and whether it was to be undertaken or it has been undertaken, it would be the Committee, which, upon examining the agreement, would report to the House. We must also have confidence in the ability of our Committees to do that. On the floor of the House, really, we cannot debate --
Mr Speaker 12:10 p.m.
I agree with you.
Dr A. A. Osei 12:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I rise to support the contribution by the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Haruna Iddrisu and my senior Colleague here.
I requested that it would be a joint Committee, but I think it would be laborious. I think that the compromise being offered here is that, if the Chairman and the Ranking Member can be invited; certainly, the Minister for Defence would be there and his technical people would be there. So we can handle it.
But the issue should not be that, the Chairman and the Ranking Member would provide technical advice. It is not them who would provide technical advice; I think it is information that would be useful to them that can help us. Technical advice
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I disagree with this interpretation of the Standing Orders, because I thought that in this context, we should read it in tandem with Standing Order 158. Order 158 provides and Mr Speaker, with your permission I beg to read:
“The Committee on Defence and Interior consisting of eighteen Members shall examine all questions relating to defence and internal affairs.”
All questions without any exception. Mr Speaker, what is a question? A question by our Orders means, except in respect of Question Time or period and a Question of Privileges, means a “proposal presented to Parliament or Committee thereof by the Speaker or the Chairman for consideration and decision or disposal in some manner”. Mr Speaker, it includes what we are talking about. So, for anybody to say that this should be exclusive of the Finance Committee, is totally wrong.
However, if we are saying that the numbers would be unwieldy so perhaps, we have to include just the leadership of the Committee, Mr Speaker, I have nothing against it. But let nobody deceive himself that we can constr ict and confine ourselves to the previous Order, the Hon Colleague, the respected Member for Sekondi has raised. Not at all.
Dr Kunbuor 12:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, under normal circumstances, I should not even be making a contribution to you on this
matter. This is because the interpretation that the Hon Minority Leader is seeking to make is not known in any principle of interpretation. In fact, when we say that ‘all matters', by implication, it excludes Questions that are expressly provided. So, if we expressly provide and remit a matter to another Committee, our “all matters” is actually circumscribed. If not, they would not have asked another Committee to deal with the terms and conditions.
Mr Speaker, I am saying that, these are technical matters and there are rules of interpretation. They might not necessarily make sense, but those are the legal principles that guide us in interpreting documents. There are senior Members here who can guide us on this interpretation. I would want it for the record, that, the fact that they say ‘All Questions' -- In fact, even financial matters are defence matters. You go and find other matters -- it means the Defence and Interior Committee would be handling almost every matter from human security to decentralisation.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, with respect to my Hon Colleague, this is parliamentary practice and I believe he understands that. Mr Speaker, let me point it out to him that in parliamentary practice, he is my junior.
Mr Speaker 12:10 p.m.
Hon Members, I would take the last two from the Hon Member for Zebilla, Mr Cletus Avoka and then the Hon Member who first raised the issue, the Hon Member for Akropong.
Mr Cletus Avoka 12:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I think that the submissions made by the Hon Majority Leader and the Hon Minority Leader can be put together against the background of the text on the Order Paper. Mr Speaker, if we look at the Order Paper, what is the purpose. It said, for the Ghana
Armed Forces peacekeeping efforts undertaken by the United Nations and other agreed uses.
That means if they are going to undertake the peacekeeping efforts of the Ghana Armed Forces, it is only fair that the Committee on Defence and Interior should be involved. This is because, that is the Committee that should ascertain, determine or get to know the issues on peacekeeping efforts by the Ghana Armed Forces.
So, it is not just strictly a financial transaction that the Defence Ministry should take, but the activities of the peacekeeping.
Mr Speaker 12:20 p.m.
Hon Cletus Avoka, I would want to know whether we are approving the peacekeeping or we are approving the credit facility. This is because the question would be put on the approval of the credit facility but not on the peacekeeping.
Mr Avoka 12:20 p.m.
Mr Speaker, you are right. It is on the facility per se. But what is the facility meant for? That is important.
Mr Speaker 12:20 p.m.
Hon Members, I have formed an opinion. You are only guiding the Chair.
Dr Kunbuor 12:20 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I can understand. We are dealing with constitutional provisions. In fact, in some jurisdiction, particularly South Africa, it is a constitutional requirement that before one commits troops outside the country, one should go for parliamentary approval. That type of activity would properly go to the Committee on Defence and Interior.
In our Constitution, they are saying it is actually the Finance Committee that handles the terms and conditions of a loan facility. This is why I am drawing this distinction.
Mr Speaker 12:20 p.m.
Hon Member for Akropong, your last comment on this matter.
Mr Boafo 12:20 p.m.
Mr Speaker, in the first place, the expression ‘undertaken by United Nations (UN)' means that the facility should only be used in respect of the peacekeeping operations supervised by the UN. We have peacekeeping operations supervised by the African Union (AU).
Mr Speaker, the second issue is this 12:20 p.m.
it is not only matters of finance that could be considered at this stage. This is because it has to relate to peacekeeping operations. When one talks about peacekeeping, it involves -- [Interruption.]
Dr Kunbuor 12:20 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I have a point of clarification.
Mr Speaker, the AU normally does not carry out these operations. One must get authorisation from the UN Security Council, asking a Region to represent the UN Security Council to carry out that activity. And the Security Council is under the UN. So, AU does not originate its own. Even when ECOMOG was originated by ECOWAS States, ECOMOG was subsequently adopted by the Security Council. That is the position.
Mr Boafo 12:20 p.m.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader is misleading the House. We are talking about operationability. If it is approved by the UN, the body that supervises the operation is AU.
Mr Speaker, as I was saying, considering peacekeeping operation as to the money to be used for the efforts, it may involve replacement of equipments.
Dr A. A. Osei 12:20 p.m.
Mr Speaker, the Finance Committee is not insisting. We are going by our own Standing Orders. I am on both Committee but for him to say that --
Mr Speaker 12:20 p.m.
Hon Members, I think that the earlier referral that I have done is proper and within the context of our rules, that is the proper thing to do.
However, given the issue involved, we have nothing to lose by adding the leadership of the Committee. This is
Dr Kunbuor 12:20 p.m.
Yes, perhaps, Mr Speaker, could even indicate that by our Standing Orders, any other Hon Member who is sufficiently interested in this matter can attend upon the meeting.
Mr Speaker 12:20 p.m.
Hon Majority Leader?
Dr Kunbour 12:20 p.m.
Mr Speaker, we can take item number 5.
Mr Speaker 12:20 p.m.
Hon Members, item number 5 -- Motion.
Hon Minority Leader, you have 30 minutes. The Business Committee decided to give 15 minutes to the mover and the seconder of the Motion. Based on the discussion today, I have doubled the time for the Hon Minority Leader of this House.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:20 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I realise that, at the very outset some guillotine is being introduced. But Mr Speaker, you are aware that, and you have been in this House for a long time, that at a point in time, when an Hon Minority Leader rose to speak on the State of the Nation Address, he spoke for close to two hours.
Mr Speaker, I am asking for two hours. Maybe half of that period because --
Mr Speaker 12:20 p.m.
I am not aware of the two hours.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:20 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I would endeavour to satisfy you and my Hon Colleagues in the House.
MOTIONS 12:20 p.m.

  • [Resumption of debate from 12/3/ 2014].
  • Minority Leader (Mr Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the Motion moved by the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry.
    Mr Speaker, the President's delivery of the Message on State of the Nation is an obligation imposed by article 67 of the Constitution.
    However, article 34(2) of the Constitu- tion provides a glimpse of the content of the Message which should capture the policy objectives of Chapter Six of the 1992 Constitution. These are in the areas of political, economic, social, educational, cultural and international objective. In particular, Mr Speaker, the Address according to article 34(2) must relate to the state of steps being taken in respect of basic human rights, a healthy economy, the right to work, the right to good health care and the right to education.
    It is in these areas that we would analyse the President's speech delivered on 25th February, 2014.
    Mr Speaker, before I proceed, it is important to make preliminary observations. Four of them, I intend to make.
    First, that there are three arms of government; the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. The President spoke a lot about two of the arms of the Government but did not have one sentence or even one word for the Judiciary. Indeed, Mr Speaker, that is a sad commentary.
    Second, the Constitution in Chapter Twenty (20) deals with decentralisation. The conduct of District Assemblies' elections as captured by article 246 is a critical enterprise in the Constitution of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).
    Mr Speaker 12:30 p.m.
    Hon Deputy Majority Whip, are you on a point of order and what order has the Minority Leader breached?
    Mr Ibrahim 12:30 p.m.
    Rightly so, Mr Speaker. Ordinarily, I would not raise a point of order against my Leader but because of the fact that, he has made this statement before and today he is making it, that is why I would want clarification and to prove to him that it was not correct.
    Mr Speaker, he had said on the day the State of the Nation Address was delivered, that the President did not touch on the Judiciary. Today, he has said that, the President spoke about two arms of government leaving one. So clearly, he is confirming what he said on that day and I would want to refer him to page 21 of the State of the Nation Address, where the President spoke extensively about the Judiciary and Mr Speaker, with your permission, I beg to quote. Page 21, paragraph 4 of the State of the Nation Address:
    Mr Ibrahim 12:30 p.m.

    With this Mr Speaker, I think you would call him to order.

    Thank you very much for the opportunity.
    Minority Leader (Mr Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) 12:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, first of all, the concept that the Deputy Whip is introducing in this country; Deputy Chief Justice, is unknown to this Republic. Please, he should be very careful. That is the first observation.
    Second, Mr Speaker, I would not want us to go into how -- my Hon Colleague has stated that, the President spoke extensively on the Judiciary. He mentions two sentences and that is extensive in his view.
    Three, Mr Speaker, we were all in this Chamber when the President spoke.
    The President has been a long-serving Member of this House. He knows the traditions in this House. If indeed, those words were captured in the original Address, he would have told us that he was presenting highlights or perhaps, he was not going to be able to capture the entire spectrum of the Address and would request the Hansard Department to
    subsequently, capture the entire thing as having been read in the Hansard. He made no such statement.
    Mr Speaker 12:30 p.m.
    Hon Members --
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, if he would want to go on that path, we would question how come this one came to be inserted in this, because Mr Speaker
    -- 12:30 p.m.

    Mr Speaker 12:30 p.m.
    Hon Members, I do not want us to belabour this point because I learnt my Second Deputy has made a ruling on this matter. My attention has been drawn to it by the Clerks-at- the- Table. I was not in the Chair and I have just been informed by the Clerks-at-the- Table that what was handed over, what was laid on the Table; there was a Statement on the Judiciary. But it is equally true that it is not on that day -- you know, in what was captured by the Hansard, there might not be anything mentioned about the Judiciary.
    What was handed over to me that day, which I handed over to the Clerk; I have been informed by the Clerks-at-the-Table that there is something on the Judiciary in that document. I have just been informed. This is just to guide the debate so that we do not belabour the point, especially so, when my Second Deputy has made a ruling on that matter, so we should make progress in the House.
    Dr Benjamin B. Kunbuor 12:30 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    I think that we should allow this concluding debate to proceed smoothly. The only reason is because, there is a technical procedural issue that has come up. We must begin to operationalise when something is in the Speaker's armpit, and it is handed over to the Clerk, does it constitute part of the processes of Parliament, in which when there is a dichotomy between an extempore
    presentation as it were and what is before this House, which way we should go. That would guide us in the future because this matter has come up time and time again on other settings and I am grateful that you have referred to the ruling of the Hon Second Deputy Speaker on this matter, so that we are clear in our minds when matters are properly before the House.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, to be honest, I am not privy to that ruling. I think that the procedures of this House are known to all and should be understood by all. That is how I will leave it.
    Mr Speaker, as I was saying, elections at the level of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) are due this year. Four years ago, the conduct of the elections at that level became very epileptic. Already, the Electoral Commission (EC) has sounded, that elections have to be postponed indefinitely. This is because of non-release of funds to procure additional biometric registration equipment to start the registration of potential new voters.
    The President had no word on this and the nation was put in a quandary. Mr Speaker, late yesterday, I learnt that, some money has been released to the Electoral Commission (EC). That certainly should be good news. But going by the scheduled programme of activities of the EC itself, it means the elections cannot be held this year. The last elections were held in 2010, exactly four years ago.
    I hope we do not get ourselves into the situation where the Assembly Members could serve for more than four years in obvious breach of article 246 of the Constitution.
    Mr Speaker the third observation relates to the Statistical Service's estimates of our population three years ago.
    Mr Speaker, our population today, extrapolating by an annual growth of 2.5 per cent, should be in the region of 26.5 million. The President at the very outset of his Statement said that, we are 24 million people. That would mean that, about 2.5 per cent of human lives, to quote the President himself:
    “Each one deserving access to basic necessities of life,”
    could only end in a disaster for the nation if we do not plan for that huge number.
    The fourth observation Mr Speaker, is the admission by the President that, free Senior High School (SHS) education is possible in Ghana, in a year from now. Ghanaians should be happy with this. Mr Speaker, it is good that the very person who less than 14 months ago, categorically stated that the scheme was not going to be possible anytime soon should be the same person now saying that, it is possible and it would come soon.
    Mr Speaker 12:30 p.m.
    Are you on a point of order?
    Dr Kunbuor 12:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, at least, I should not be interrupting the flow of my Colleague but there is something very, very fundamental. The Statement made in relation to Senior High School (SHS) by His Excellency the President, was in terms of progressively making it free and ‘progressively' is a term of art. It is used in the United Nations' (UN) Realisation Clause on right to education, right to health, that it must be progressively done. There is a world of difference between declaring free SHS and
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, whether progressive or retrogressive, in the first Statement made by Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), he indicated the possibility of starting this in 2015. Everybody heard it. The President disputed that. Today, he is alluding to the same date; progressively or retrogressively; what is the difference? Mr Speaker, God bless our homeland Ghana, as I said.
    Mr Speaker 12:30 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, he did not use retrogressively; or you are using it? Who is using retrogressively?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am saying whether progressively or retrogressively. Here, the effect is the same. This is because they all pointed to the year 2015. So who is deceiving who?
    Mr Speaker, we should all be helped to identify characters of untruth from characters of truthfulness.
    Mr Speaker, the preamble of the President's Address, which states the four thematic areas of the NDC 2012 Manifesto and which were captured in the introductory of the 2013 Message by the President and these are:
    one, putting people first;
    two, strong and resilient economy;
    three, expanding infrastructure; and
    four, transparent and accountable governance.
    Let me first speak to the economy. Mr Speaker, Hon Colleagues have spoken earlier and alluded to some aspects of this. The President stated on page 9 of his Message and with your permission I beg to quote him:
    “…our economic fundamentals remain sound and our mid-term prospects are good”.

    The statement means that our
    economic fundamentals have for long been sound. He said that they remain sound, so for a long time they have been very sound. Just five minutes later, the same President came to state, indeed, lament and I beg to quote him:
    “The basic structure of our economy has not changed from colonial times. The Gold Coast was designed by the colonial master to be exporters of raw materials and importers of finished goods”.
    And then, another quote:
    “This is the basic structure of our economy”.
    He added. Following after that on page 11, the President further wails and I quote again:
    “… a fundamental problem of our economy is that we do not make what we consume”.
    Mr Speaker, the statements are obviously contradictory. Mr Speaker, the evidence of the true state of the economy can be found in everyday lives, in the markets, in the streets, in the industries. The cost of doing business has shot up and so unemployment in both formal and informal sectors have become widespread.
    The high cost of living is exacting its toll on all of us and it is no wonder that the public sector workers are demanding
    pay rise from Government. Standard of living is falling, life is becoming unbearable and our people are getting poorer. Public financing is out of control and the economy is simply in trouble.
    Mr Speaker, what are the causes of the sharp decline in the economic circum- stances of our people?
    The first is the huge public debt. This Administration, in 2009, inherited a total public debt of US$8 billion. That is captured in paragraph 94 of the 2009 Budget Statement; the equivalent of GH¢9.5 billion at the beginning of 2009. Within five years, this debt has escalated, and what did the President himself allude to?
    Mr Speaker, it is sad to observe that over 55 per cent of the debt was borrowed locally, and what this means is that, Government has been competing with the private sector for money domestically. This causes interest rates to rise, thereby making it harder for domestic business to go and create jobs. The effect is that, our youth are roaming the streets without employment. It is sad to relate that it is the youth, who are today unemployed, who would be called on to pay this debt sometime in future.
    What is there to show for all these moneys being borrowed? Not much, except dubious payments to Woyome, Isofoton, Construction Pioneers, Waterville and other such people. That is the true state of the economy which Ghanaians need to know.
    Since 2009, this Government has resorted to sheer propaganda to struggle to portray that they are better managers of the economy.
    The GDP growth points in another direction, for since 2009, the non-oil sector growth has never matched the growth rates recorded in 2008 that was 8.4 per cent. Since 2009 -- five years running--and they call themselves better managers of the economy.
    Mr Speaker, in 2013, by the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) standards, economic growth in countries that are non-oil producing in the West African Region averaged 6.7 per cent, and the countries are the Gambia, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Ghana's non-oil sector grew by 5.8 per cent and that is captured in page 11, paragraph 28 of the 2014 Budget Statement.
    Mr Speaker, of the ten primary and secondary criteria of economic growth established for countries in the West African Monetary Zone, Ghana placed last in the league of countries such as the Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. We are the only country that attained three out of the ten criteria. Indeed, by December 2013, we had even slipped on the exchange rate stability, which meant that we attained only two at the end of December 2013.
    Mr Speaker, even possibly, with real interest rates, we slipped. It thus means that, by the close of 2013, we achieved just one out of ten.
    It is the worst performance by this country in 20 years. That is the true state of the economy.
    Mr Speaker, instead of addressing the real causes, the President is telling Ghanaians the country has caught the bug -- and I beg to quote him:
    “of the 2007 world financial crisis and the recent tapering policy announced by the United States Federal Reserve”.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:40 p.m.

    Mr Speaker, in 2011, when the GDP growth rate hit 14.4 per cent, both the Minister for Finance and the President came to the House, beating their chests for prudent economic management. They made no reference to the 2007 world financial crisis. The President was then most expressive comparing figures with countries in the sub-region of Africa. Today, our President is referring to those in the USA, Russia, Turkey, Portugal and Greece. That is our lot; he is running away from the West African situation and comparing to Portugal and Greece.

    Mr Speaker, we should be candid with ourselves. Mr Speaker, indiscipline in Government expenditure, which reached unprecedented levels, is one of the reasons why our currency is suffering. That is the plain truth.

    How much is owed to COCOBOD, Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), District Assemblies Common Fund, National Health Insurance (NHIS), Road Fund, road contractors and even Parliament as we speak today? That is where we are; and Parliament has not seen this before. [Interruption.] The Minister for Trade and Industry, is the person who moved the Motion for us to congratulate the President and he is asking me why.

    Mr Speaker, what remedial action is the President proposing to stop the huge unbudgeted expenditures by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and even Government Machinery? Mr Speaker, as you may recollect, in seconding the Motion for adjournment after the President's delivery, I said that, many of the things His Excellency had recounted were rehash of the 2013 Message. That in itself would not be bad if the purpose was to restate to account

    for progress in those matters. It was not so in the President's statement, but in many cases to restate as if they are completely new things, some of them, he rather surprisingly sprinted away.

    Mr Speaker, if we intend to put people first as the President declared, education should be a paramount concern. The President, at page 4, posited that, his focus is going to be on quality, access and affordable.

    The issue of access and affordability are covered already in article 38(1) and (2) of the Constitution. The President spoke about the constitutional requirement within ten years after coming into being of the Constitution to make education free at the basic level. Even there, the President got it wrong. Mr Speaker, it is not ten years; it is twelve years. Mr Speaker, it is within twelve years after the coming into being of this Constitution and not ten years. One would want to believe that when the Constitution, in article 38(3) (a) urges the State to provide and Mr Speaker with your permission I beg to quote:

    “(a) equal and balanced access to secondary and other appropriate pre-university education, equal access to university or equivalent education, with emphasis on science and technology;”

    As well in (b) under article 38(3):

    “(b) a free adult literacy programme, and a free vocational training, rehabilitation and resettlement of disabled persons; and

    (c) life long education”

    Subject to the availability of resources, the President appreciates the import of this constitutional provision. So there is

    a greater burden. It is not only providing for free SHS, it relates to vocational and technical education as well. That is captured in article 38 (3) of the Constitution.

    So it is important Mr Speaker, to remind the President that --
    Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa 12:40 p.m.
    -- rose --
    Mr Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Do you have a point of order? What order?
    Mr Ablakwa 12:40 p.m.
    Very much so, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Hon Deputy Minister, what order has the Minority Leader breached?
    Mr Ablakwa 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise on Order 30 (f). The Hon Minority Leader is misleading the House.
    The Hon Minority Leader has stated for the records that, the President said that compulsory free education ought to be achieved in 10 years. The President did not state in the State of the Nation Address that it should be achieved in 10 years. He did not give any date. Actually, on page 6 this is what the President said and I beg to quote:
    “Further to this, the Ministry, following consultations with stakeholders, has prepared a report on the road map for a progressive introduction of free secondary education in Ghana as required under the 1992 Constitution. This road map would be presented to Cabinet for approval and subsequent implementation. Under the guidance of this proposed road map, we can anticipate that fees for day students will be abolished at an estimated cost of GH¢71 million in the 2015/2016 academic year”.
    No where in the Address did the President say that it requires 10 years to achieve, for which he accuses the President of having misled the nation. The President did not give any specific timeframe of 10 years or 12 years as the Minority Leader suggests, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the young Hon Members in this House, I believe will grow up.
    Mr Speaker, let him consult the Hansard on what the President said here. Mr Speaker, please, he should not mislead himself. We are talking about two documents at the same time.
    Mr Speaker, I guess I will disregard this and move on.
    Mr Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Hon Members, let us have order in the House.
    Mr Ablakwa 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, he should quote the Hansard. If he claims he is referring to the Hansard, he should quote it --
    Mr Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Hon Members, let us have order in the House. Hon Ablakwa rose on a point of order, you have made your point, I called the Minority Leader to continue, and I do not intend to make a ruling on it. He said he was referring to the Hansard and now you -- [interruptions.] -- wait, you can only speak when I give you the floor. So what you need to do is to get the attention of the Chair for reference to be made to the column of the Hansard that the Hon Minority Leader is referring to and then we make progress.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the order that the Hon Member even quoted I do not know -- The President spoke to us here and we all listened to him. I am saying that was what the
    Mr Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, he has quoted the State of the Nation Address.We also know admittedly that, there were certain things that you would find in the Hansard that might not necessarily be in the State of the Nation Address.But this is the final document that we are using for the purpose. So once he has drawn your attention to it, take it on board and let us make progress.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, is it to be considered that the President never uttered ‘tweaa' in this House because it is not part of this?Mr Speaker, I recognise that as you said we must consider this as the official statement. It does not derogate from what the President said in this House. It does not.
    But Mr Speaker, as I was saying, article 25 (1) which talks about making secondary education progressively free, that is available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, the secondary education in that, includes technical and vocational institutions.
    Mr Speaker, it is sad to say that, because vocational institutions come under the purview of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, which is itself not well resourced, vocational institutes have become orphaned establishments.
    Mr Speaker, the time has come to place the vocational institutes under the Ministry of Education so that they could also benefit from the resources available to GETfund. Mr Speaker, I can bear testimony to this: In my own Constituency, when I appealed to
    GETFund, they would not initially oblige me, but eventually when they did, and provided some resources, the President, President Evans Atta Mills went to cut the sod for the initiation of that facility. Just last week when I was away, they commissioned the project.
    Mr Speaker, I am saying that, it would be important to place vocational institutes under the Ministry of Education, so that they could profit from the GETFund, they are all collapsing and it is certainly not the best.
    Mr Speaker, as part of improving the quality of education, the President last year assured us he would integrate kindergarten education into the mainstream. That is between 2005 and
    2008 --
    Mr Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, your time is up but I am giving you three more minutes --
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I admitted --
    Mr Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    By the Speaker's clock you started at 12.25, by the Speaker's clock it is now 12.55pm. but I would give you three minutes to account for other matters.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, honestly, interjections have taken more than 15 minutes of my time. When I started,Mr Speaker, by the watch here, it was 11.29 a.m. I am not disputing what you are saying.
    Mr Speaker 12:40 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, I am giving you three more minutes.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, with respect to the Chair, that would be most uncharitable, but I believe that you would indulge me when I get there.
    Mr Speaker, as I said between 2005 and 2008, the Kufuor Administration started
    this integration process of integrating Kindergarten education into the mainstream education, which explains why between 2005 and 2008, all contracts that were awarded for the construction of basic schools included two unit kinder- garten classrooms. Mr Speaker, in 2009, this Government decided to abandon that process, which explains why last year, when the President came here and assured us that they were going to integrate kindergarten into the mainstream, all of us were happy.
    However, not a single contract that was awarded for the construction of basic schools in 2013 had that component, not one, and no teachers have been trained.So where are we? We expected the President, to by way of improving quality talk on this, but he offered no clue about the status integrating the KGs.
    The 2008 Manifesto of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) stated that ‘the School Feeding Programme which the Mills-Mahama Administration inherited would be expanded to cover all basic schools in the country in four years. No such thing happened. In 2013, when the President came, he changed gear and said that the School Feeding Programme would be expanded to all public basic schools in rural communities.
    Significantly this time, they are no longer to all basic schools in the country. Even that, how many public schools in our rural communities which had no school feeding before 2013 benefitted in 2013? No indication, because apparently, nothing happened.
    Mr Speaker, the President assured to bring the Bill for the University of Eastern Region in the third quarter of 2013. No such Bill came and no such Bill has come.
    While I recognise that the President's promise to have one State university established in each region is in fulfillment of article 38(1) of the Constitution which provides and I beg to quote:
    “The State shall provide educational facilities at all levels and in all the Regions of Ghana, and shall, to the greatest extent feasible, make those facilities available to all citizens.”
    Mr Speaker, while I concede this, great care must be taken not to create any mushroom institutions whose products may turn out to be misfits or not to be recognised by the establishments because of low standards in these institutions.
    Mr Speaker, we must borrow useful lessons from Nigeria which in the late seventies at the height of the oil boom, decided to provide State universities for the then existing thirty two states of the federation.
    Mr Speaker, many of them have become glorified polytechnics and post secondary institutions, with no proper description. Some of them have resorted to changing their names, as if mere name change would improve their status. Mr Speaker, we should be careful; the ones that we have established in the Brong Ahafo and the Volta Region, let us resource them adequately before we venture into these areas, otherwise, we would be creating mushroom institutions all over, as happened in Nigeria and that would not be good for us.
    Mr Speaker, while I appreciate the concerns of the President to increase the intake in the number of existing training colleges, I believe the time has come for this country to confront the fact that, the existing number, about thirty eight-is no longer adequate to service our purposes, and that we need to create more training colleges.
    Mr Samuel Ablakwa 1 p.m.
    -- rose --
    Mr Speaker 1 p.m.
    Hon Deputy Minister; the Minority Leader has done five minutes and he was concluding. I gave him three minutes but --
    Mr Ablakwa 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, just for accuracy. The Hon Minority Leader keeps referring to training colleges, they are Colleges of Education. They are no longer training colleges.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, this is a point of non relevance, because really, we are talking about the training of teachers. Mr Speaker, as I was saying, the time has come for us to confront this.
    Mr Speaker, on health, the President stated that his vision was to extend the quality health of our people.
    Mr Speaker 1 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, you have done thirty six minutes. I want you to conclude,
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, if you indulge me for just a quarter of an hour I would finish.
    Mr Speaker 1 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, I would give you three more minutes.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker --
    Mr Speaker 1 p.m.
    I would give you three more minutes.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, if you check your time, Hon Members have interrupted for more than fifteen minutes.
    The President's vision as I said, involved the construction of new facilities and the training of health personnel. That is a declaration of good intent. When health personnel are trained, they have to attend to patients.
    There have been too many heckles in the relations between the Ghana Medical and Dental Council and Government. It is not as if to say that, these problems have not existed in the past, they have, but admittedly, recently there have been an upsurge of conflicts between the Ghana Medical and Dental Council and Government.
    Mr Speaker, the President is the Chief Executive of this country and he must devise the appropriate conflict resolution mechanism to deal with this,as it seems increasingly that, the posturing of the negotiators have not been the best required to deal with the problem.
    Mr Speaker, last year, the President said he was going to transform the Kintampo Health Training Institute into a university college. Nothing has thus far happened and the President found it unworthy to deal with this.
    Again he said, two hundred and twenty persons who had been diagnosed as persons with HIV/AIDS were to be enrolled on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) free of charge. We did not hear of any effort pursuant to this in 2013.
    Mr Speaker, the President spoke about the construction of thousand six hundred CHPS compounds, already a Colleagues has spoken about that. He promised to commence work on twelve distr ict hospitals. Already Members have spoken about that. Also, he promised to construct regional hospitals--six hundred bed facility intended to be built.
    Mr Speaker, that is good, but as a nation, we should have value for money.That is why it is worrying, what we are hearing is that, the construction of the Ridge Hospital is going to turn out to be the most expensive of such facility the whole world over
    A Member: Are you sure?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
    Yes, I am sure Mr Speaker, this is because, the cost per square metre is US$ 6,757. One square metre!Mr Speaker, that is unknown anywhere in the world. It is unknown anywhere in the world.
    Mr Speaker, the Crown Agents-- the Minister who is part of Government is asking me the source, Crown Agent. His own Government contracted to deal with this and Crown Agent is advising that we could make a saving of at least US$ 85 million at current cost.
    Mr Speaker, while some of us were away, we understand this came to Parliament and it has been approved.
    Mr Speaker, this Facility would have to come back to this House for a Motion of recision and Parliament would have to delve into it. We would not condone any acts of malfeasance.
    Mr Speaker, Saudi Arabia is doing a thousand six hundred bed-facility at the same cost as we are doing our Ridge. Thousand six hundred bed capacity hospital starting from scratch. It cannot be accommodated!Mr Speaker, last year, the President promised--
    Mr Speaker 1 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader, you know I have given you enough allowance because you speak for the Minority.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1 p.m.
    Mr Speaker let me --
    Mr Speaker 1 p.m.
    For the fact that you speak for the Minority, I have given you enough time to speak. I think you have done well over the time allocated to you. By the clock here, you started at 12:25. It is now five minutes after one by the clock I am using here.So Hon Minority Leader, kindly wind up.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:10 p.m.
    Thank you very much. Hon Members have spoken about the SADA and I am not going to talk about it. Transparent and accountable governance, I am not going to talk about this even though there is much to talk about, but just to say we should provide illumination and sunshine whenever there is darkness.
    Mr Speaker, in this House, there have been Motions that have been filed, yet we have not had the opportunity to debate them. I would appeal to your goodself to help the House to provide space to deal with them.
    Mr Speaker, are you indulging me to mention them, the Hon Member who moved the Motion?
    Mr Speaker, the final thing by way of conclusion. In 2014 the President sounded to initiate some big projects. Going forward, it would be prudent to minimise spending and hence more borrowing and decrease debt, that is what the President should have focused on.
    The prescription of the President to refinance domestic debt portion of our total debt, the President must be told that debt is debt no matter how it is classified.
    Let me put it on record that, stimulating the economy, in periods of recess may in itself not be a bad thing, but the President ought to have provided further and better
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:10 p.m.
    particulars on ongoing projects. This is because, some are experiencing incidences or the perception of incidences of maladministration. Our stadia and health facilities boast of modern equipment, yet poor maintenance culture have diminished the youthfullness of such facilities. That is why it is important that, they provide an update to all of us in order to move this country forward.
    All in all, the President is a communi- cator and he knows where to sprinkle some doses of humour.

    On occasions he told Hon Members, distinguished Members of this House, “keep quiet and listen to me. I am offering you lessons in economics, free lessons in economics”.

    Mr Speaker, though he is our President and has been an Hon Member of this House for several years, we indulge him, we would plead with him that taking these things too far, would tend to ridicule this House. So the next time he appears before us, he should take himself and the House more serious in his rendition. Having said that, the substance, I would say, the issues presented to the House, all told, a lot of bubble but little substance.
    Mr Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    You used 44 minutes.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, with respect, did you count the number of interjections and how many minutes they totalled? But I would not go on that line.
    Majority Leader (Dr Benjamin B. Kunbuor) 1:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to make my contribution to this all important Motion.
    I have had the benefit of listening to almost everybody and I must congratulate Hon Members. This is because, this has been one of the most dramatic debates on the Sessional Address. Beyond the very significant points that Hon Members of the House raised, we found also for the first time that; both Chinese and Ghanaian cloths found their way into the debates in addition to the jute sacks, and perhaps that enriched the debates.
    Just because I have the benefit of a hindsight, in the process of the excitement of these debates, a number of debris have been dropped along the way, and I think it is my responsibility to clear some of those debris as I proceed.

    Mr Speaker, I am saying this because, this matter has come to this House time and time again. People have always confused what the President is required to do in this House under article 34 with what he is required to do in this House under article 67.

    I have seen a confusion in which people believe that, when the President comes under article 67, he should deal with the elements that have been referred to in article 34, and I would want this impression corrected.

    Mr Speaker, article 34 is simply asking the President to report to the House on a number of development concerns and this is to be done once a year. While article 67 requires the President to give us a message of the State of the Nation. What is significant is that, again I have found out that people are confusing the nation with the state, confusing the nation with a political party and confusing the nation with a state.

    The State of the Nation's Address is not to come and deal with issues of Government policies. In fact, the very concept of a nation involves the country first but most significantly —
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 1:10 p.m.
    — rose —
    Mr Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Do you have a point of order?
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 1:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, rightly so, I do.
    Mr Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    What Standing Order has the Hon Majority Leader breached?
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 1:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, Standing Order 30(f). The Hon Majority Leader respectfully, is making reference to article 34 —
    Mr Speaker 1:10 p.m.
    Hon Member, I am not going to take arguments on the Constitution. That is his view that he has expressed on the matter. At the end of the day, all of us can express our views on the Constitution, but there is only one constitutional, body that can interpret the Constitution. That is his view, I am not going to take your point of order. Hon Majority Leader, please proceed.
    Dr Kunbuor 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I normally get very excited when I see the Hon Member on the floor. I look back at the years and feel a lot of gratification, that a
    few years ago, he was sitting in front me as a student and now. [Laughter] He has matured, he has matured and he is engaging me, and that is the beauty of being a teacher. So I believe that I did my work well. [Laughter]
    On a more serious note, the very concept of this Message has to be the nation which is the State, the individual country, Ghana and its social and political structures. And this is where we ought to bound our arguments in relation to this debate.
    I have watched and read the Sessional Address very closely. There was no responsibility under article 67 for the President to come and deal with any specific thematic areas.
    There is no such responsibility but to give us a state of the nation. In fact, the President should not even give us the state of the Government. He should give us the State of the Nation, which includes everybody in this country and our own political structures.
    There were two important structures that he dealt with, which I intend to focus on. On the economy, one of the classical things that came up, and I would want to hear in the debates was what triggered off the deficit. We have talked of Single Spine, we have talked of all other issues but as I went over the figures again, there is something significant that as a House, we have to register with our development partners.
    I have always seen in every budget statement a component of donor funds. I started looking at the drawdown of these donor funds and beginning to see the parallels between the donor funds and the deficit,and the question I ask is that, if all the donor commitments were met, what would be the level of the deficit that we would have?
    Dr Kunbuor 1:20 p.m.

    It is a visible aspect of what we expect to receive. So when one looks at a dedicated source like this -- and I entreat economists to go back and engage this issue-- to see the extent to which the failure of the donor commitments also exacerbates our deficit. One is not saying that that is the only reason we have a deficit.

    I would also warn that while we talk of the single spine, let us begin to approach it from a very scientific perspective. I guess the Hon Minister for Finance should now start talking to this House in terms of actuals. I would want to know, beyond just the percentage of 60 per cent of our revenue going into salaries and arrears, what is the extent of the impact of the single spine salary structure on our budget? That would become significant for all of us to engage.

    I would want to add to that another matter that we have always ignored in our own economic policy. The assumption is that, the revenue we collect, we do not spend any money to collect it. So when we give ourselves a target of GH¢200 million, only to find out that when we aggregate the cost of collection, including the salaries and recurrent expenditure of the revenue outlet, we ended up spending GH¢100 million. When we net our GH¢100 million out of the GH¢200 million, we would find that, our actual revenue that has come into the kitty might be GH¢100 million. This is important because, that is the only time people would know what is actually in the kitty. That is significant.

    Mr Speaker, another significant thing to do is with the structure of our economy and I have heard a lot of issues being raised which are not historically correct.

    Last two weeks, Professor Ernest Aryeetey delivered a lecture and what he said was that, the structure of Ghana's economy has not changed since 1911 -- [Interruption] -- and that the only time that Ghana or the Gold Coast saw a structural change in the economy was between 1891 and 1911. I am registering this point for us to know that this structure of the economy of which we are bemoaning today has a very long history.
    Dr Kunbour 1:20 p.m.
    But I am happy that this time, after having looked back at the previous year, he says he was happy -- [Hear! Hear!]
    Mr Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Hon Minority Leader --
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I have never said “In the last State of the Nation Address which was delivered last year”. I have never said so. Mr Speaker, I know the difference between “last” and
    “previous”. The State of the Nation Address that was delivered last year was the previous one; it could not have been the last. I know that difference between “last” and “previous”.
    Dr Kunbour 1:20 p.m.
    Thank you very much. The good thing about it is that, whether it was the last or the previous, the Hon Minority Leader for once was happy -- [Laughter]

    When you have Parliamentary processes that are going on, I know you have tried to correct me several times, but when is the State of the Nation Address given? Within a Session. So I know exactly what I am saying. But if you are more comfortable with “State of the Nation”, I will stick to that.

    This has to do with article 290 and Mr Speaker, I think this House must take this aspect of the Sessional Address on constitutional review very serious, this is because, I have gone through that article and we are going to go into unchartered waters and we must begin to find the answers to it. That has to do with the processes of the amendment of the entrenched clauses.

    Mr Speaker, if one watches the wording of article 290, one is not clear about how the entrenched clauses enter and leave the House and how they return. It is because we have not had this experience, that is why it might be important for us to begin anticipating this very significant area. I have had discussions with other lawyers and they say it is a matter of parliamentary practice and not necessarily

    a matter of constitutionality. But when we look at how the Constitution has crafted it, we must begin to engage that issue before it actually catches up with us.

    Mr Speaker, I certainly told the Hon Minority Leader that I was going to spend five minutes, but it indulges me to address one or two issues that have been raised and that are significant to this House.

    Mr Speaker, I have seen a number of interventions on this structure of the economy which is the external factor. This is because the nation is not an island, it is also significant that we see how the external and global environment affects our state of the nation.

    Mr Speaker, I have been observing with interest that, throughout the days of the most favoured nations' arrangements to Doha and Cacum, the essential external framework that was going to address issues of our own economy and trade, which also deals with our own interest rates and our cedi depreciation have never been addressed. I think that this is about time that the Doha Round Table ought to come to a conclusion, more significantly, now that the Doha Round table has added development and a voice for emerging economies and developing countries.

    The inability of emerging economies to engage on this particular line of thought and bring it to closure is beginning to create a problem for us, this is because, our national economy, as it were, cannot be an island and it is impinged. This was what the Hon Minority Leader was referring to, that suddenly, His Excellency the President has woken up to external developments which perhaps were discounted.

    I can agree with him on that point that significantly, because of the nature of globalisation which is even more pronounced in the economic and financial
    Mr Speaker 1:20 p.m.
    Hon Members, the mover of the Motion would want to exercise his right under Standing Order 86(4) (c) which states:
    “No member shall speak more than once to any question except

    Hon Minister for Trade and Industry, I am giving you 10 minutes to do that.
    Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Haruna Iddrisu) 1:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity, once again, to wind up to a very lively and constructive debate seeking to thank His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama on the Message on the State of the Nation which he delivered to this august House on 25th February, 2014.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I think you defined the coordinates for my Hon Colleague. [Laughter.] That he may wish to get up and reply to matters that have been raised. He cannot just say that he wants to wind up. It does not find expression here. Unfortunately, he was not even in the Chamber most of the times when the debate was going on. I do not know what he is going to reply to.
    Mr Speaker 1:30 p.m.
    Yes, he cannot introduce new matters-- [Interruption.]
    Mr H. Iddrisu 1:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, if I did not have the privilege to listen to; him, I did it a while ago. And Mr Speaker, I do not intend to retrogress in confusing what economic fundamentals are with the structure of the economy. He could have learned very easily, by regressing to seek some education from the Hon Member for Old Tafo, Dr A. A. Osei, when the President said and Mr Speaker, with your permission I beg to quote what he quoted:
    “Economics fundamentals remain sound.”
    He was referring to matters on inflation, exchange rates, balance of payments, interest rates and other issues relating to growth. We cannot relate same when the President is calling for a comprehensive restructuring of the Ghanaian economy.
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the areas that he has mentioned, where are we sound in? Exchange rate, is it sound? Interest rate, inflation -- Mr Speaker, let him not confuse himself. [Interruption.] And Mr Speaker, he would know that I have lessons from economics; he would know that, very much unlike him.
    Mr H. Iddrisu 1:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, matters of the economic fundamentals include fiscal deficit and other issues. I would endea- vour to respond to it.
    Mr Speaker, the President was candid when he said that mid-term prospects are good. Even those who rate us internationally appreciate the fact that, our mid-term fundamentals are indeed very good, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
    Mr Speaker, let me particularly thank the Hon Member for Sunyani West, Mr
    Ignatius Baffour Awuah for nobly seconding this Motion and making very constructive suggestions. Mr Speaker, with your permission I would would want to quote him:
    “Mr Speaker, I would want to laud His Excellency the President for one thing he did. That he used the time to do an advocacy for made-in- Ghana goods and for that I would want to applaud.”
    Dr A. A. Osei 1:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I did not intend to say anything today, but my good friend got up and mentioned my name and I was not very pleased. I have been trying to catch your eye on a different matter.
    Mr H. Iddrisu 1:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, it is noted. But Mr Speaker, I also listened to Hon Dr A. A. Osei's brilliant exposition in wanting to run away from what he has been publicly associated with in asking for a deferment or a suspension of the Single Spine Salary Scheme (SSSS), because in his view, the wage Bill was not sustainable.
    Mr Speaker 1:30 p.m.
    I do not think he was running away; he tried to set the records right or was he running away?
    Mr H. Iddrisu 1:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I withdraw the words”run away”. He tried to explain his position -- [Interruption] -- in accepting the principle that the wage Bill is not sustainable. Mr Speaker, again, he is in harmony with the President and with the Government, that the current wage Bill is not sustainable. Indeed, what Government is asking --
    Dr A. A. Osei 1:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I think that my Hon Good Friend is not even listening to his colleague Minister. He agrees with me but the Minister for Finance disagrees with me. [Interruption.] Mr Speaker, this is his budget; I was repeating what he said in his budget. So I am glad --
    Mr Speaker 1:30 p.m.
    Is it bad that he is agreeing with you?
    Dr A. A. Osei 1:30 p.m.
    The Minister for Finance who is leading him in economic management disagrees with him; that is a serious matter.
    Mr H. Iddrisu 1:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the important thing, learning from his suggestion, is to assure that Government does not seek to suspend or freeze the implementation of the principle of the SSS scheme.
    What Government is seeking to do on the basis of the spir it of the Ho Declaration with labour, is to ask for some consensus of moratorium on increases in wages, because it is not sustainable, to quote him and quote others before him.
    Mr Speaker, I probably missed aspects of the debate for good reason. I did a quick follow-up visit to Mauritius where the President had visited and encouraged Omnicane sugarcane factory to consider investing in Ghana. I was doing a quick follow-up, Mr Speaker and just a little
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, since the Hon Member who moved the Motion is not really replying to matters that have been raised-- In his own area, the President for instance, indicated to establish a sheanut factory at Buipe, a vegetable oil mill at Tamale, a rice mill at Nyankpala and so on. Since they are in his own territory, maybe, he could provide further and better particulars about that to us. It is important, instead of going to other areas --
    Mr Speaker 1:30 p.m.
    Hon Minister, you have two minutes to conclude.
    Mr Iddrisu 1:30 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we would as Government, increase the production of rice from the current 300,000 metric tonnes to 400,000 metric tonnes to, at least,800,000 if not one million, between now, and the end of 2016 through some intervention which would be given to farmers with support from the export development and agricultural investment fund.
    Mr Speaker, in respect of what the Hon Minority Leader has said,Avanash Industries have indeed established -- It was private-led investment in r ice processing which is ready for processing.
    There are difficulties, which I had the privilege to discuss with them about water and electr icity which is now being handled. But the larger difficulty, Mr Speaker, which is at the thrust of the President's State of the Nation Address is that, we are not even able to produce enough rice for Avanash to be able to process.
    With all the farming, economic and agricultural opportunities that we have, we are unable to do that. So Avanash would need to have more reliable raw material of paddy rice in order to be able to produce and that is why we would support irrigation development and many other issues.
    Mr Speaker, I should thank Hon Members for supporting the Motion to thank His Excellency, President Mahama on his State of the Nation Address.
    He did not just comply with the constitutional obligation under article 67, but in seeking to progressively introduce free Senior High School, the President only was discharging an onerous constitutional responsibility, including vocational and technical, which obliges him to implement a progressive free education.
    Mr Speaker, I have heard people say that, that concept has been borrowed. The Constitution is older than their predecessor-government. Mr Speaker, if we are borrowing today, they probably borrowed it yesterday and must recognise that, they borrowed that obligation to which the framers of the Constitution in their wisdom put before us. But what is beautiful and unique is that, we all agree that Ghanaian school children deserve access, they deserve quality, and they deserve relevance.
    Mr Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    Hon Members, that brings us to the end of the debate on this Motion. I would now put the Question.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    That this Honourable House thanks H. E. the President for the Message on the State of the Nation, which he delivered to Parliament on Tuesday, 25th February, 2014.
    Dr Benjamin B. Kunbuor 1:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that the House be adjourned to Friday, the 14th of March, 2014 in the forenoon.
    Mr Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    Hon Members, now that we have disposed of this Motion, there are a number of Bills outstanding. I would suggest that the Business Committee
    programmes them from next week going so that we can pay a lot of attention to the Bills that are before us in this House.
    Have you moved the Motion?
    Dr Kunbuor 1:40 p.m.
    Yes, I have moved the Motion but the Hon Minority Leader was drawing my attention to a matter. When we adjourn we would discuss and finalise on a Joint Caucus meeting, possibly tomorrow before we sit, or we interrupt the Sitting depending on the exigencies. All I can say is that Hon Members --
    Mr Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    Can you give Hon Members the time for the Joint Caucus meeting?
    Dr Kunbuor 1:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, that is the discussion and consultation I would want to have with the Hon Minority Leader.This is because, it is such an important matter that we would not want to fix a time that other Hon Members would not be here.
    Mr Speaker 1:40 p.m.
    Very well, Hon Minority Leader?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:40 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we had a discussion in the morning, and we intend to have a Joint Caucus meeting before the House sits tomorrow. I thought the Hon Majority Leader was going to emphasise that. Perhaps we may agree on the time, possibly 9:00 a.m., because they are matters that concern all of us. If we want to emphasise it, we meet at 9 o'clock tomorrow in the forenoon to have some serious discussions before the House itself commences its Business.
    On that agreement, Mr Speaker, I beg to second the motion moved by the Hon Majority Leader.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    ADJOURNMENT 1:40 p.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 1.44 p.m. till Friday, 14th March, 2014 at 10.00 a.m.