Debates of 10 Jun 2014

PRAYERS 10:30 a.m.


Mr Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Hon Members, let me welcome you to the Second Meeting of the Second Session of the Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic. I thank the Almighty God for seeing to your well- being while away and bringing you all safely back to the House this morning. It is my prayer that the Almighty God will continue to look upon us with favour and extend to us His divine mercies during the course of this Meeting and the period thereafter.
I do hope that, Hon Members took opportunity of this Easter recess to rest and invigorate themselves for the work ahead, even though as a former Member of Parliament, I am aware that surgeries and other important constituency matters
Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
would have taken up a substantial part of your time.
Hon Members would have noticed that I had to, in consultation with the Leadership of the House and the Clerk to Parliament, postpone the date for the convening of this Meeting of the House.
Firstly, we had to quickly find resources to undertake the repair and replacement of parts of the top layer roof of this Chamber, which had been ripped off by a rainstorm. The situation would have been worse but for a second layer of roofing which saved the Chamber from being flooded.
Secondly, you would recall that in my Closing Remarks at the end of our First Meeting this year, I directed all Parliamentary Committees with outstand- ing referrals, to ensure that their reports were ready before the resumption of the House for this Second Meeting.
We were compelled to invite the Chairmen and Ranking Members of those committees a week ago, to provide the necessary resources to enable them complete their assignments and reports for submission to the House before the commencement of this Meeting today, so that we could launch straight into serious business.
This present Meeting may be short, but quite packed with legislative business. I would extend an appeal to the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Gover- ment to respect the timetable of the House and submit their respective businesses which require Parliamentary approval or consideration timeously.
I do hope that Hon Members would continue to give the Chair maximum co- operation so that we could rise early to enable the work relating to the re- configuration of the Chamber to proceed on schedule.
On this note, I once again welcome Hon Members back to the House and wish you fruitful and enjoyable Meeting.
Thank you.
I must quickly add that this morning, in consultation with the Leadership of the House, we decided that we would enter the Chamber at 10.00 o'clock prompt. I was in the Lobby this morning as early as

Deputy Minority Leader (Mr Dominic B. A. Nitiwul): Mr Speaker, precisely.

As our convention allows us, I would just make some few comments in support of what you have said.

Today marks the commencement of the Second Meeting of the Second Session of Parliament and on behalf of Leadership

and on my own behalf, and of course my boss, I would like to welcome Hon Members back to the House, particularly, after enjoying their Easter and long break as stated by the Speaker. [Interruption] -- Yes, it was a long break.

Mr Speaker, rather, given the pre- carious financial situations that most Ghanaians, especially Members of Parliament find themselves, I would say that, the recess passed without our notice and without activity. Even with the resumption of the House being postponed twice, many Members of Parliament find it difficult to operate at the usual level that they would have ordinarily done.

But, Hon Members would have to take things easy, and trust that all would be well at the end of the day. I know and trust that all Hon Members would have come very prepared for the big task ahead of us and I thank the Almighty God that He had sustained us through all these difficult times and that God would have mercy on us.

I pray that the House succeeds in whatever we do.

Mr Speaker, this Meeting like all other Meetings, especially the Second Meeting of Parliament is rather a difficult one. This is because it is the Bills time and we know as Hon Members, our attitude towards Bills.

Parliament has a backlog of Bills and we anticipate that we would have many more Bills that are supposed to come. In our quest to ensure that we would have a productive Session, I believe and entreat that all Members of Parliament would come on time and be very punctual in their activities and participate in the Business of the House, as Mr Speaker has already pointed out to us, including all Committee
Majority Leader (Dr Benjamin B. Kunbuor) 10:40 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I would join your goodself and my Colleague, the Hon Deputy Minority Leader, to welcome Hon Members to the House for this short but what would eventually prove to be an eventful Second Meeting.
Mr Speaker, I certainly have taken a cue from your goodself and I have also taken a cue from my Hon Colleague, the Hon Deputy Minority Leader, on a number of issues that have been raised. I certainly believe that the issues have been raised with the best of intentions and it is not sufficiently useful to engage those issues in a partisan manner. The tone of those issues, in my view, provides a very useful space for us to engage our parliamentary work.
I would equally entreat Hon Members that, and as I keep saying, the stakes are very high and the public is watching us in
terms of our attendance and performance of our parliamentary duties; in terms of both quality and quantity. I expect that in this Sitting, we would want to keep a close relationship between quality and quan- tity.
Mr Speaker, your goodself has drawn Leadership's attention to some of the issues and we intend that we use a number of mechanisms, be they capacity building mechanisms-- to enhance the quality of work of this House.
I certainly do agree with the Hon Deputy Minority Leader, that a number of very topical things have happened and people have been asking what exactly Parliament is doing. Well, I can understand him as coming from the Minority that he is courageous enough to mention corruption.
I do know a number of equally topical matters have come up and people are asking what Parliament would do, not too far away. I do not intend to wade into those other matters that are coming, but I guess that as a House, we would take up those matters together with the issue of corruption, which is very significant, so that we can sanitise our political environment and to work.
Mr Speaker, I have always maintained that I am not very comfortable with the saying that “the minority should always have their say and the majority would have their way”. I am very convinced that, what we need in this House is that, the Minority must have an informed say and the Majority must have an informed way. That is the only time that we can put Ghana at the pedestal and not at the level of partisan Majority and Minority.
Mr Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Thank you very much, Hon Deputy Minority Leader and Hon Majority Leader.
Hon Members, we would move to Item Number2 on the Order Paper -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings.
  • [No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 1st April, 2014.]

    Mr Alexander K. Afenyo-Markin 10:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, at column 2208, paragraph (3), “what exactly that there is a question mark- you cannot put something. It is cannot and not can”.
    Mr Speaker, back to column 2207, there is a “would” that has strangely found its way. It is supposed to read -- Mr Speaker, respectfully: “My Hon Colleague is not getting the point I want to put across.” So the “would” must be deleted.
    Mr Speaker, if we come to column 2209, the third paragraph 10:50 a.m.
    first line, it reads “We are giving powers . . .
    It should read:
    “We have given powers to Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) and the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to freeze based on suspicion and we have defined that when they freeze, they have up to one year. . .”
    “ To investigate and charge”, that did not come, Mr Speaker. So we would insert “to investigate and charge” at the end of the third paragraph.
    Mr Speaker, when we proceed further to paragraph 5 on the same line, we have two laws giving effect to the same provisions and not four.
    In the next paragraph:
    “This is where I would want us to clear,” if we have given the power to FIC and EOCO, then the provision of one year…”
    The “of” did not come.
    Mr Speaker, unfortunately, in my opinion, I was in the process of doing further editing so your first suggestion of possibly deferring, I would want to --
    Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    Hon Member--
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 10:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I wanted your leave.
    Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    Hon Member for Effutu, you know you cannot do that.
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 10:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would proceed with what I have and I have two more.
    Mr Speaker, column --
    Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    The rules of the House allow you to see the Hansard, where it is not changing the substance but it is one of small grammatical or spellings errors for them to effect those changes. So if your amendment is to that effect, you can always do it with the Editor of Debates.
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 10:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would proceed with a few and then take a cue from your --
    Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    Do not go and insert any substantial matter into the Hansard; the rules would not allow it.
    Please, proceed.
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 10:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am grateful.
    Mr Speaker, column 2229, the first paragraph 10:50 a.m.
    I would like to withdraw that. There is supposed to be principal enactment, which is not there. [Inter- ruptions.]
    It is in there, I am not withdrawing; you are not reading with me. What is there -- there is supposed to be a continuation, Hon Majority Chief Whip. We are supposed to add “principal enactment.” Then --
    Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    “Please, I would like to withdraw that, and you are saying there would be a continuation.” What is the continuation?
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 10:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, let me --
    Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    You did not continue.
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 10:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, they did not allow -- they interrupted me.
    Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    You know they have the recording of your voice so whatever you say, the Editor of Debates would crosscheck what you are correcting with what has been recorded. We are taking note of what you are saying.
    Mr Afenyo-Markin 10:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, they had actually come to me to assist but I would like to take a cue from your earlier position and then get to them to do the correction so that I do not waste the time of the House. [Interruption.]
    Mr Speaker, that is my uncle saying so but that is all right.
    Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    Very well. Hon Members, the Official Report of Wednesday, 26th March, 2014 --
    Dr Kunbuor 10:50 a.m.
    Sorry to take you back Mr Speaker. I would want us to look at column 2210, the fifth paragraph which says:
    “Mr Speaker, if the Hon Member was here yesterday, this was precisely the debate on the rea- sonableness test and not “text”.
    Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    Very well, Hon Members, the Official Report of Wednesday, 26th March, 2014 as corrected is hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings.
  • [No correction was made to the Official Report of Thursday, 27th March, 2014.]
  • [No correction was made to the Official Report of Friday, 28th March, 2014.]
  • [No correction was made to the Official Report of Monday, 31st March, 2014.]
  • [No correction was made to the Official Report of Tuesday, 1st April, 2014]
  • Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
    Hon Members, item number 3 on the Order Paper.
    Hon Members, I have admitted one Statement for today. The Statement stands in the name of --[Pause] -- the Hon Member for Tarkwa-Nsuaem, Hon Gifty Kusi .
    Hon Member, you have the floor.
    STATEMENTS 11 a.m.

    Mrs Gifty E. Kusi (Tarkwa -- Nsuaem) 11 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the world woke up on the 15th of April, 2014 with terrifying news of the kidnapping of over 200 girls on the night of 14 -15 April 2014, by a group of Boko Haram militants who attacked the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria. They broke into the school, shooting the guards and killing one soldier.
    It was reported that the students were taken away in trucks, possibly into the Konduga area of the Sambisa Forest where Boko Haram were known to have fortified camps. Houses in Chibok were also burnt down in the incident. The school had been closed for four weeks prior to the attack due to the deteriorating security situation, but students from multiple schools in the district had been called in to take final exams in physics.
    It is alleged that the students are being forced into Islam and into marriages with members of Boko Haram, with a bride price of ¦ 2,000 each ($12.50). It is also alleged that many of the students were taken to neighbouring countries of Chad and Cameroon, with sightings reported of
    Mr Fritz Frederic Baffour (NDC -- Ablekuma South) 11:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise in support of the Statement ably made by Hon Gifty Kusi.
    This very sad affair affects all of us in Africa and the world basically. This is because there is a new movement to ensure that the girl child finds her proper place in the scheme of things of the world.
    So many initiatives have been started all over the world to bridge the gap in education, in access to facilities and to give the girl-child a proper place. So, when this happened in a country next to ours, it brought it home to us that we really have to do a lot more to dispel the perception that females are dispensable. We see it in the many statistics of women who die in childbirth because of the lack of facilities; women who are not able to go to school; women who are suffering from debilitating illnesses because there are no facilities for them.
    Now, it is about violence against our children; our girl children. What is happening in the Chibok is not an issue
    for only Nigeria, but for us in Africa, this is because, it is not an isolated incident.
    We have heard about the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda, operating in South Sudan and other parts of the central zone of Africa, where girls are kidnapped and used as sex slaves and other negative additions to whatever the insurgents are doing. So, Chibok has brought it home to us and it is good that the President or the Chairman of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), our President, John Dramani Mahama, called a meeting in order for us to put together our minds as an international initiative to combat insurgency in West Africa and Africa.
    Insurgency is a very difficult military problem to resolve. It is not about two forces of equal might facing each other. It is about toughness, it is about deceit, it is about hit and run, therefore, we should seek the means of mounting proper counter insurgency and it is good that Ghana has started training its soldiers, the special forces for counter insurgency and combat operations.
    Nigeria is now trying to put together the r ight kind of equipment and armaments to be able to counter the insurgents. We are getting help from the international donor countries like the United States of America (USA), like France and it is sad because they have the technology, we do not have it so we have to fall on them.
    But in reality, this whole thing is about us coming together and ensuring that the indices that create the negativity, poverty, ignorance, the lack of education; all those things have to come together to create that situation in Northern Nigeria and certain parts of Northern Cameroon and Chad.
    The initiative to bring back our girls is the right one. And we have to make a whole lot of noise and we have to apply the international lobby so that our girls should be brought home, but that is not enough. We also have to work in our various communities to ensure that, that kind of thing is not created or replicated elsewhere, if not in Ghana and West Africa.
    On that note, Mr Speaker, I strongly speak to support the Statement in saying “Bring back our girls”. Thank you.
    Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey (MP -- Anyaa Sowutuom) 11:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, first of all, I would like to commend Hon Gifty Kusi for the Statement that she has made.
    It is important that we all support the campaign to bring back the girls who were abducted in Chibok in Borno State in Nigeria.
    Mr Speaker, since 2009, we all have heard of the problems that Nigeria has faced due to the activities of Boko Haram. I think it affects all of us directly or indirectly.
    We have a saying in our local languages that, when your neighbour's house is on fire, you get a bucket of water or you get some water, and put it next to yours because you never know when it would happen to you.
    Mr Speaker, what is happening in Nigeria can spread to the rest of West Africa. We all know the problems that Mali is facing at the moment and how the activities of the National Movement for Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) can be traced to the problems that Libya faced a few years ago and how the insurgents spread and connected with those in Mali. Today, Mali has not known any peace.
    Mr Speaker, it is quite worrying that a country like Nigeria in West Africa should be going through what it is going through now. There are so many questions that can be asked and very few answers that can be found to do with Boko Haram and its activities. After the girls were abducted, Boko Haram's activities have not stopped in anyway in Nigeria. We have all heard of the bombings in Jos, an Islamic Amir has been killed and they keep on with their activities and it looks like it cannot be stopped.
    Unfortunately, ECOWAS has not been able to do anything about it and that is worrying; it is good Mr Speaker, when problems like this come up and we have to call on the International Community to help.
    I think ECOWAS must get its acts together and also do something when problems occur within ECOWAS. We know what happened when the Mali problem occurred. They had to depend on France and other communities. Today, we are depending on the international community including the UK and France and other countries to help us.
    But we also should be seen to be doing something before we extend a hand asking for help from the international community.
    Mr Speaker, as we speak, it seems to the Nigerian people, to the parents and the people of Chibok in Borno State that, the Government of Nigeria is not doing anything. I know that when it comes to issues with terrorism, a lot of work is done behind the scenes. But the parents and the people of Nigeria who are directly affected need to be briefed continuously, so they know exactly what is happening.
    At some point, the Government decided that they were not even going to show the faces of these children. Meanwhile, Abubakar Shekaru has said
    Ms Laadi Ayii Ayamba (NDC/Pusiga) 11:20 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity. I r ise to support the Statement that has been well made by my Colleague Hon Gifty --
    Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
    Hon Members, let us be very brief given the number of people who want to make comments.
    Ms Ayamba 11:20 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the issue of Boko Haram has been an issue that most of us have been so worried about because it is associated with a particular religion and that is very unfortunate; a religion that preaches peace and states how its followers should live, a religion that some of us have belonged to and have never hurt a fly. This is because there are some groups of people who are out there trying as much as they can to satisfy their own selfish ends.
    The abduction of the three hundred and more girls from Chibok village, does not affect just any one religion, because it is clearly stated by Abubakar Shekaru that a sizeable number of the girls are not muslims. This goes to say that some of the girls are also muslims. Now the Islamic religion; does it tell us to hurt our colleagues, let alone ignorant girls, definitely not?
    Mr Speaker, permit me to make reference to certain parts of the Qu'ran that have spoken clearly against such nefarious activities and with your permission, I beg to quote:.
    “Let there be no compulsion in religion.”
    Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
    Which part of the Qu'ran?
    Ms Ayamba 11:20 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, Qua'ran 2:
    Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
    Very well.
    Ms Ayamba 11:20 a.m.
    The Qu'ran again states in Chapter 4:19 on forcefully marrying in Islam:
    “Do not inherit women against their will.”
    This is one of the things that people are using and saying they are forcefully marrying these girls out. The Qu'ran and for that matter, Islam is totally against it —
    Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
    Hon Member, conclude.
    Ms Ayamba 11:20 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, Islam says, if it had been against your Lord's will, all the people on earth would have believed in one religion and we all know what God's could be. If He wills that all of us should belong to one religion, it would have happened. If He has not willed so and He has put us into various countries and tribes then I do not see why one should compel another to belong to a religion he or she does not belong to, and that is in Qu'ran 10:99.
    Mr Speaker —
    Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
    Your last sentence.
    Ms Ayamba 11:20 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, this particular issue does not affect only the Nigerian girls, but all girls, even in Ghana. That is because we have muslims in Ghana and we have communities that could easily be affected, because we have gir ls' institutions.
    So Mr Speaker, I rise to support the Statement and that they should bring back our girls.
    Thank you very much.
    Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
    Hon Members, I sit in the Chair here and I am enjoying every bit of your contributions, but we have to be very brief because we want to move on to Public Business.
    I think the maker of the Statement has made a very good and brilliant Statement which is very exhaustive, so let us be very brief.
    Mr William Ofori Boafo (NPP-- Akwapim North) 11:20 a.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. In the first place, I would like to congratulate the maker of the Statement for taking such a bold step and the in-depth research that went into the preparation of the Statement.
    Mr William Ofori Boafo (NPP-- Akwapim North) 11:20 a.m.

    Mr Speaker, a close examination of the motives of the Boko Haram clearly indicates that we have a myriad of dynamics to operate with. Some of them have been made public as it was disclosed in the Statement by the maker; that of cultural hatred about the western culture. We also have the indigenous supremacy issue about the Islamic religion.

    Mr Speaker, with regard to the first dynamic, most of us here are all products of the Western education. It is not only in Ghana but throughout West Africa and Africa you can find products of western education. We are all therefore targets for these particular motives by the Boko Haram. If they succeed in Nigeria, it is likely they would extend their empire into other countries in Africa, and especially West Africa.

    Mr Speaker, we also learnt from the Social Media that there are people who are actually behind the Boko Haram Movement and they are well funded. This Mr Speaker; poses a great threat to the entire West African States. We do not have to treat lightly what is going on in Nigeria. We must embrace the issue there, study it carefully and see how best we could forestall its spread to our country and other neighbouring countries.

    Mr Speaker, it is very disheartening to note that the international community has responded to an invitation for them to intervene in the search for these young girls.

    Mr Speaker, I am glad that they did not treat it as an isolated case for Nigeria or West Africa. As some of my Hon Col- leagues have already said, we would like to see more evidence of action from ECOWAS which is what we lack. He rightly pointed out that, maybe, some

    moves have been going on behind the scenes but we would like to see something which would encourage us and set our hearts to rest about what is going on in Nigeria.

    Mr Speaker, we know of threats to security in the West coast of Africa. We have threats of piracy; the recent one is what happened in Ghana about the loss of the Liberian Ship. Mr Speaker, now a new dimension of security threat is emerging in West Africa. It is for us to stand up against such threats. There are lots of kidnapping, kidnapping of no less a sector of our society than our youth.

    Mr Speaker, they are the future leaders of the countries in West Africa and it is important that we stem it, so that it does not spread to other parts of Africa.

    Mr Speaker, these security threats are also a disincentive to investment. We had internal conflicts which prevented development in other countries in West Africa: Liberia, Sierra Leon, Ivory Coast, which are all behind in development because of their internal communal conflicts.

    Mr Speaker, if we are unable to stem this move by Boko Haram about youth kidnapping and we allow it to spread, that is also going to be another threat to investment and our security.

    Mr Speaker, I would urge our Govern- ment and all stakeholders involved, especially the security agencies not to take this matter lightly, but to take it on board and if possible, brief the House from time to time as to what is being done so that those of us who are representatives of the people would equally be in the position to assuage the fears of our constituents.

    Thank you, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Members, I would now move to Leadership, if they have anything to say, otherwise, that will bring us to the end of Statements.
    Mr Dominic B. A. Nitiwul (NPP -- Bimbilla) 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, first, let me congratulate the Hon Member who made the Statement. As we have stated, this is a very exhaustive Statement. It captures all she wanted to say and all that this Parliament would say and had wanted to say.
    I believe that the essence of this Statement is to show sympathy to the families of the abducted girls, not just them but all those who have had their people abducted by Boko Haram, and as well as show support to the Government and people of Nigeria and all those who have had themselves being victims of this Boko Haram issue.
    Of course, to also sympathize and show our support, as a Parliament and as a people, to all those who have organised the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign. We congratulate them for starting it and we hope that the God that created all of us would touch the hearts of the leaders of Boko Haram to release these girls and all the others.
    In my view, my singular aim for contributing to this Statement is to see these girls being released and back home to their parents healthy and unharmed. If we talk and at the end, the girls are not released, we achieve very little because I can just imagine the trauma and difficulty that the parents of these girls could be going through.
    You sent your daughters to school and all you hear is that a group of individuals who think they have a problem will go and abduct them, capture them and whatever they are doing to them, you may not know.
    But we must all be circumspect in what we say concerning this very issue. If you are dealing with people who believe in doing what Boko Haram is doing and you have followed the activities of Boko Haram over the past two, three years, you can know that they are very, very ruthless. That is why we should be very careful about what we say in showing our support.
    I do not know that over the last two weeks, there was a conference here in Ghana also to show support. It was not for nothing that ECOWAS did not come out publicly to let the world know the steps that they are taking with regard to this very issue. I believe that the conference achieved something with respect to Boko Haram. But as I said, when you are dealing with people or an organisation like Boko Haram secrecy is a weapon that you have to employ otherwise, you could endanger the lives of the very people that you seek to save.
    But as an Hon Member said, let us congratulate the international community for once showing an active interest in what has happened in Nigeria. This is not the first time that Boko Haram has abducted people or has killed people, or has done something but the capture and abduction of these 250 girls has really touched the hearts of almost everybody in the whole world.
    That is why I congratulate this Parliament for also showing support and showing their face in saying that, we plead and urge the leaders of Boko Haram to please, release these ladies and bring them back to their parents in good health. It does not pay to abduct somebody's daughter and sell that girl whether into slavery or into forced marriage. Those they hope would be buying these ladies, if they had wished should please, read their conscience and not buy them or
    Mr Dominic B. A. Nitiwul (NPP -- Bimbilla) 11:30 a.m.

    those they think they would be selling into slavery, they should not do that.

    We pray and hope that all member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) would help and fortify and aid the Government of Nigeria to stem this, because if we do not do something about this and do it very fast, it could spread to the rest of West Africa and that could be very dangerous.

    Mr Speaker, thank you very much.
    Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
    Hon Majority Chief Whip.
    Alhaji Mohammed M. Muntaka (NDC -- Asawase) 11:30 a.m.
    Thank you Mr Speaker.
    I equally rise to congratulate our Hon Colleague for the well-couched Statement and I believe it is at the most appropriate time.
    Mr Speaker, it would sadden my heart that, everyday as I watch the television, or listen to the radio, one keeps hearing about what is happening in our sister country, Nigeria. Worse of it as a muslim, because it dents the image of many innocent muslims around the world who are doing all they can to adhere to the teachings of Islam.
    Mr Speaker, I would just want to say that, all of us as muslims would wish that we are judged by Islam; people get to know what Islam is and judge us the muslims by it but not to judge Islam with us the muslims; this is because, some of our character and behaviour is the complete opposite of what Islam teaches.
    Mr Speaker, I am saying this with many inferences not only in the Holy Qu'ran, but even the teachings of the
    Holy Prophet (SAW). I have Colleague muslims here and I believe a lot of scholars are listening to us. They would tell you, at the time of the Holy Prophet (SAW) , he advocated learning to the extent that he told his followers that go seek knowledge even if it would take you to China. At that time in the Arabian Pennesula the farthest they thought was China.
    So he was trying to tell muslims that, learn even if it is going to take you to China, and at that time there was no Islam in China. So what the Holy Prophet (SAW) was typically saying was that, learn not only the teachings of Islam; that is what he was portraying.
    Mr Speaker, he was also cited many times in his teachings saying that, for every muslim knowledge is your bona fide property, therefore anywhere you find yourself and find knowledge, pick it. It did not also depict only the knowledge of Islam, because you could not find the knowledge of Islam everwhere apart from the Arabian Peninsula, but he said that anywhere you find it, pick it.
    Mr Speaker, there had been many wars that were fought during the time of the Holy Prophet SAW. One key principle of war time in Islam is that, during war time, there are some people that the Holy Quran forbid any muslim to attack. The first are children; second are women and third are the elderly. So how can anybody who claim to be a muslim abduct a woman and worse of it children? That cannot be Islam. I am sorry to say that this cannot be the character of a muslim.
    Mr Speaker, we, the muslims are very concerned and we condemn this thing without any reservation. Nothing under this sun can justify what is happening. Mr Speaker, we, as a people, need to do more. Why am I saying that we need to do more?
    Nigeria after their Biafra war did a lot of things that I think should serve as a lesson to us. What are some of the things? They allowed themselves to be segregated into their own small corners. So when you go to the Northern part of Nigeria, they have this Madrasa. So you would see that even though they learn secular education, it is restricted only among muslims. They do not integrate.
    Fortunately for us in Ghana, I am proud to say, I attended many mission schools and I am proud to say that even as of today, my children are attending a Pentecost school. So we are lucky that in Ghana we grow integrating.
    This is something we must cherish as people, that at all times, we must do everything to integrate our society despite our differences in culture, religion and what have you.
    Nigeria did not do this and I hope the leaders of Nigeria would take this lesson seriously to see how they can correct what has been written wrongly, so that in the future they would have one integrated society that people would see themselves as one another's keeper.
    Mr Speaker, I am happy that my Hon Colleague, Hon Shirley made mention of unemployment. The issue of unemploy- ment is also an issue of marginalization. At all times, we must do whatever we can to try and consider those who are in minority so that they do not feel so aggrieved to behave irrationally. This is because what is happening in Nigeria cannot be rational, it is irrational.
    Mr Speaker, I also congratulate our leaders for coming together and the international community for the support that they are giving.
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Hon Members, that brings you to the end of Statements. At the Commencement of Public Business - Excise Duty Bill, 2013 at the Consideration Stage.
    BILLS -- CONSIDERATION 11:40 a.m.

    STAGE 11:40 a.m.

    Mr William O. Boafo 11:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want your guidance. This is our first meeting and some of us did not have prior information about what is going to
    Mr William O. Boafo 11:40 a.m.

    transpire today, yet we are now proceeding on the Consideration Stage of a very important Bill, Taxation. Majority of us, more than seventy-five per cent of us here do not have the Bill with us. They used to send us the Order Paper through our mails, but this morning when I checked, it was not sent so we did not know exactly what we were coming to do.

    Some of us are disadvantaged; we would want to contribute, we would want to help but we are disadvantaged. This particular view that I am expressing is shared by a lot of people in the House and I believe everything aside, Mr Speaker would share that view.
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Hon Member, you have raised very important issues, but let us start and if we meet anything controversial then we would advise ourselves. Indeed, I met the leadership and the Chairmen of some of these Com- mittees and as I indicated these are some of the reasons why we had to postpone our recall so that we come and start with serious business. Now that we are in, if we have to suspend Business of the House, we may run into difficulties.
    So I would ask the Table Office, if they have some of the bills they can make them available to Hon Members while we continue. If we start and we have challenges, we would advise ourselves as a House.
    Clause 2 -- Exemptions.
    Mr James K. Avedzi 11:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move that clause 2 paragraph (b), line 1, delete “fire or other”
    The new rendition will read, “goods that have not been entered for home use from the warehouse or a manufacturer where the Commissioner General is satisfied that the goods have been
    destroyed by natural causes.” Mr Speaker, we think that fire can also be caused by natural causes; therefore there is the need to delete “fire or other”.
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Hon Chairman, they have mentioned “fire and other natural causes”. Fire may not necessarily be a natural cause depending on the cause. So they mentioned fire specifically and other natural causes. Is it not better for you to leave it as it is, then you define the kind of natural causes that we have in the definition column of the Bill?
    Mr Avedzi 11:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker we actually debated this issue and we think that the way it is in the Bill, if it remains like that, it means that if it is, “destroyed by fire which was caused through natural causes”, it does not qualify under this. We are saying that fire can be caused -- [Interruption.]
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    What is the intent? Is it the intent that they want to mention fire specifically and then mention other natural causes?
    Mr Avedzi 11:40 a.m.
    They think that if those goods, if the Commissioner- General is -- [Interruption]
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    I say so because they are mutually exclusive, “is or” so is the fire or other natural causes?
    Mr Avedzi 11:40 a.m.
    Yes, and we are saying that if that fire is caused by natural causes, would it fall under this? If you make it “fire or other natural causes” and in this case that fire was caused by natural causes, it would not qualify here. So we would want to make it -- [Interruption]
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    So you want to limit it to natural causes? Very well.
    Mr Nitiwul 11:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, when the Committee was debating this issue I was not there so I am trying to think about what he said, because whether the fire is of natural causes, arson, or intentional or other, it is still fire.
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    That is why they want to delete “fire” and limit it to “natural causes”. So when the fire is not due to natural causes it would not benefit under the exemptions under the law. Is that not the point?
    Mr Nitiwul 11:40 a.m.
    Is that what you are saying?
    Mr Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Mr Avedzi 11:40 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, we are talking about destruction. Once those goods are destroyed, either by fire, natural causes or whatever, we are saying that, that fire can also be caused by natural causes. Therefore if you say ‘fire or other natural causes then if that fire -- [Interruption]
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Then in that case, I think the original should stay.
    Mr Nitiwul 11:50 a.m.
    If the explanation they are giving us now is correct, then the original should stay. If you are looking at destruction that is not caused deliberately by the owner for example, and it is not the fault of the owner and the destruction is caused by either fire or natural causes, then the law applies. But when you take out the fire and somebody goes to set fire for example, God forbid, but somebody goes in the night to set fire to it and you take natural causes and it is not natural causes, if the investigation shows that it is not natural causes, then what happens?
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Honourable Majority Leader and then the Hon Member for Sekondi.
    Dr Kunbuor 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, this is a Revenue Legislation and if you read the sub-heading it is seeking to exempt a number of circumstances. The real reason why it should be “fire” is that, if it is arson
    for instance which is fire, but it is deliberate, then you have a difficulty with that situation. Also because other laws require that some of these premises should be insured, there is automatically an indemnity where the thing occurred in relation to non-natural causes.
    That is why you have to distinguish between the fire and the other natural causes to show that the exemption would operate when it is by a force majeure, for instance, natural causes. But from anything outside natural causes, the exemption will not apply.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    So do you want us to maintain ‘fire' or we should delete it?
    Dr Kunbuor 11:50 a.m.
    In fact, it should be deleted. The amendment is right.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Honourable Member for Sekondi.
    Papa Owusu-Ankomah 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I support the point made by the Hon Majority Leader. Before one is exempted from excise duty due to damage, it must be by natural causes. Even that, you ask yourself, was the damage caused or was the damage a natural cause? You may have a fire which is commenced by someone else. But for the purposes of this Law it is a natural cause, this is because it was not caused by the act or omission of the person whose properties have been damaged. It is for this reason I am urging this House to support the amendment proposed by the Committee.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Hon Members, it is clear now that the emphasis is more on natural causes. Hon Members, I intend to put the Question.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.

    Clause 2 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 3 -- Temporary importation of goods.
    Mr Avedzi 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move that, Clause 3, amendment proposed subclause 1, paragraph B, lines 2 and 3, delete the following:
    “or within a further period deter- mined by the Commissioner- General”
    Mr Speaker, the new rendition would read 11:50 a.m.
    “The Commissioner-General may grant permission for a person to import excisable goods without payment of Excise Duty where the Commission-General is satisfied that the goods shall be re-exported within three months from the grant of the permission.”
    Mr Speaker, all the words, after ‘permission' should go because, we think that granting of a further period by the Commissioner-General is not needed here.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Hon Members, I will put the Question.
    Question put and amendment agreed to.
    Mr Avedzi 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, clause 3, amendment proposed, subclause 4, delete, Mr Speaker, the Committee thinks that subclause 4 is no more relevant in terms of the amendment proposed in sub- clause 1.
    So, it is consequential.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Hon Members, clause 3, subclause 4, delete all the words --
    Mr W. Boafo 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I do not seem to appreciate the reason behind the call for the deletion, because it allows for some flexibility.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Are you referring to subclause 4?
    Mr Boafo 11:50 a.m.
    Yes, Mr Speaker. Maybe on the assessment by the Commissioner- General you would find out that it is quite impossible for a person to do the re- exportation within three months. Obtaining permission, assembling documents and so forth. Mr Speaker this is why I believe the flexibility period is allowed. We do not have to be so stringent. This is taxation but we do not have to be so stringent. We should allow room for the Commissioner-General to exercise some discretion on his own assessment with the situation.
    Dr Kunbuor 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I guess that the amendment was proposed as a deterrent measure. The reality about re- exportation has been that people have used a lot of the bureaucracies to buy a long length of time and it gets to a point that you are not really sure whether they bring in the matters used, for instance, the Free Zones Board arrangements retained the things and actually distributed them here while they have been designated as goods that have entered the county for re-exportation.
    So, giving this flexibility has always been the problem in which these items end up being disposed of here, because it gives them advantage to also avoid a number of revenue. So, it is anti-revenue leakage measure put in place, because anybody who had brought in goods
    within the time stipulated, if they are not really re-exported, then there is clear intention to the Commissioner-General that they do not intend to re-export them.
    So, I think that this amendment addresses that problem and saves quite a lot of tax evasion.
    Mr Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker to take the Chair.
    Mr Chireh noon
    Mr Speaker, I really do not see the reason why this sub-clause 4 is being deleted, this is because it is a general provision that has been given and can be exercised by the Commissioner-General.
    Mr Speaker noon
    Chairman of the Committee; the Member has made an important point. Why are you deleting sub-section 4 and not sub-section 5; because they are both consequential.
    Mr Avedzi noon
    Mr Speaker, first of all, let me explain why we are deleting sub-section 4, it is because under clause 3 (i) and (iii), -- [Interruption]
    Mr Speaker, where the Commissioner- General has granted this permission, and when he is satisfied that, the goods have not been re-exported under clause 3 sub- section (iii), “the Commissioner-General shall retain the bond or the security where the goods imported are not re-exported within the specified period.”

    Now, once the Commissioner-General has retained the bond and the security because he is satisfied that the goods have not been re-exported, he cannot go back and give a further period of three months for the goods to be re-exported, this is because he has exercised that power under clause 3 (iii). That is the main reason we are deleting sub-section 4.

    Once we satisfy sub-section 3 by retaining the bond or the security, we cannot go back and further grant extension of the period. Sub-section 5, “where the goods are re-exported within the time specified, in sub section (i), or within a further period allowed under sub section (iv), the Commissioner General, shall cancel the bond or the security provided.”

    Mr Speaker, we would do a further amendment to sub-section 5 because of the deletion of sub-section 4; but the sub- section 5 is still important because of the sub-section 3. This is because, when the goods are re-exported within the time period, if you exercise the sub-section 3, and you later realise that the goods have been re-exported, then you have to cancel the bond. So the sub-section 5 is still relevant, but we would only amend it to take off the sub-section 4 portion of it.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker noon
    Hon Yieleh Chireh, are you all r ight with the explanation?
    Mr Chireh noon
    Mr Speaker, I am not completely convinced. This is because, if you look at that provision under sub- section 4, it should have come under sub- section 3 (i); either sub-clause (c), which still gives the Commissioner-General the option to extend, after which [Interruption.] If you have deleted that option, why are we deleting it?
    Mr Avedzi noon
    Mr Speaker, the Committee is of the view that, granting extension of the period for revenue purposes is not good. This is because, you are given three solid months to re-export the goods. We cannot give a further three months if you fail to re-export the goods within the first three months that was given to you by the Commissioner-General. That is already a discretion for the Commissioner-General to give you the three months.
    That is why in subsection 3 (i) (b), we have deleted the extension of the period from that. The Commissioner-General then exercises that power under subsection 3 (iii) to retain the bond or security and then if he realises that you have been able to export the goods within the three months that was given you, then the Com- missioner-General would cancel the bond or security and that is why with subsection 5, I said, we need to delete the portion that relates to sub-section (4) because we have deleted it so the sub- section (5) is still relevant.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker noon
    Hon Member for Sekondi.
    Papa Owusu-Ankomah noon
    Mr Speaker, I wish to propose that, with sub-section 5, we delete line 2; “or within a further period
    allowed under sub-section (4)”, so that, it would read,
    “where the goods are re-exported within the time specified in sub- section (1), the Commissioner- General shall cancel the bond or security provided.”
    Mr Speaker, let us bear in mind that, the power to permit a person to export excisable goods without payment of excise duty is discretionary. It is a discretion vested in the Commissioner- General to grant the permission for a period not exceeding three months and we do not want the Commissioner-General to have a further discretion to extend it for another three months. That is the rationale for the amendment proposed to delete clause 3 (iv). If this amendment I am proposing in respect of clause 5 is adopted, it would be in sync with the entire clause.
    Thank you.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker noon
    Hon Yieleh Chireh.
    Mr Chireh noon
    Mr Speaker, I agree with this amendment that has been provided in subsection (5). It would take account of what we have done with subsection (4). The Committee must have had a good reason to say that, we should not be business friendly by extending the thing or whatever -- so if you are not business friendly, it is fine. So, we have to go along with their suggestion but I was thinking that, it is to allow for business sense and they should encourage business people to be able to do business.
    Thank you very much.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker noon
    Yes Hon Member.
    Mr Kwasi Amoako-Attah noon
    Mr Speaker, it looks as if we are trying to entirely kill the discretionary power of the Com- missioner-General as specified under subsection 3 (b) and subsection (4).
    Mr Speaker, we must think of the practicability of the situation, and here, I do not see any risk involved at all. This is because goods meant to be re-exported are always kept under bonded warehouse, so there is no risk at all. But Mr Speaker, in practice, and as it often happens, goods meant to be re-exported are usually. repackaged and it takes time. It goes through a number of processes and even at times trying to arrange for means of re- exporting the items take time.
    So if we make it three months, and the law is very strict on it, in practice, we may run into problems. So I would want some discretionary powers to be given to the Commissioner-General by retaining the original clauses as we have them.
    Thank you Mr Speaker.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Yes, Hon W. O. Boafo?
    Mr William O. Boafo 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, in justifying the deletion of the second part
    of the subclause 3(b) and subclause (4), I have heard on the floor that it is to discourage an attempt to resell by the exporter.
    Mr Speaker,I do not think that we would sit here to encourage laziness on the part of our monitoring team or inspectors. We must make a legislation which would rather encourage them to be more active in following the custody of the goods so that they are resold.
    Mr Speaker, the other issue is that, when a person is required to re-export, assuming that the person is constrained to look for a new importer, this may take some time. That is why it is necessary for the Commissioner-General to have that discretion. In legislation, we do not have to be one-sided. There are two sides involved but we appear to be protecting one-side and ignoring the exporter's side.We are trying to be more strict on the exporter and I do not think it is fair.
    We would want to advocate for equality in the dispensation of justice or in the administration of the law, but here we are, trying only to protect the Commissioner-General's side or official side, and not seeking the interest of the exporter, who may have extra arrange- ments to be made, which must be catered for. So that if he is unable to make it within three months, he is able to approach the Commissioner-General, and say that “ Mr Commissioner, I have failed within the three months, so I need an extension of time”. I think it is legitimate, to make it more flexible. We do not have to only protect the official side, or the establishment only.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Let us hear from the Chairman of the Committee.
    Mr Avedzi 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would want to draw Members attention to the conditions under which the Com- missioner-General may grant permission for you to import those excisable goods, where you would not pay the tax up-front.
    Mr Speaker, if you read clause 3(1) it says “the Commissioner-General may grant permission for a person to import a excisable goods without payment of exercise duty, when the Commissioner General is satisfied that the goods
    (a) “to be imported are for the purposes of further processing or exhibition,”
    and ( b) says,
    “shall re-export within three months, from the grants of the permission.”
    So, the purpose of allowing you is one, for processing, and two, for exhibition.
    Now, would you want to give six months for somebody to import excisable goods without paying the tax on it, for the purposes of exhibition, how long would you carry on with that exhibition? That is the condition under which we have granted that. So if after three months you have not re-exported the goods, then the bond or the security is seized. It is as if you are importing the goods because the bond is equivalent to the excise duty, payable on the goods. So, we cannot allow you to keep government's money for six months. The maximum we can give you is three months.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Very Well. Yes Hon Member?
    Mr Asamoah Ofosu 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, in the case where the goods are neither for exhibition nor for processing, then they could go further than the three months, is that what the Chairman is saying?
    Mr Avedzi 12:10 p.m.
    Once you are importing excisable goods, you are to pay the duty on point of entry,but if the goods you are
    importing are for only exhibition, we would give you three months period to do that exhibition and re-export the goods. During that period, you have to place a bond or a security which is equivalent to the duty you should have paid assuming you are importing the goods into the country.
    After you re-export, government refunds the bond or the security to you. Now, we are saying that, if after that three months, you have not re-exported the goods, then it is assumed that you have imported the goods into this country and for that matter, the bond that you placed which is equal to the duty payable on it is seized .So, it is like you are importing the goods and it is simple. Three months, is enough for exhibition.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Member, unless you can tell us that the three months period is too short for purposes of exhibition and re -exportation. I am inclined to --
    Mr Ofosu 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I am only seeking a clarification. My attention was drawn by a Colleague Member that in the case of let us say Ghana Textile Print (GTP), they are like the representatives of Holland wax print. Those that are to be distributed to West Africa and even to the whole of Africa would come straight from Holland to Ghana, before they are re-exported to the countries.
    In that case, they would have to take first ticket here, in the custom bonded warehouse, before the other countries bring orders and then it is re-exported outside the country to those countries that bring the orders. Receiving them, keeping them and waiting for orders before re-exporting may take more than three months. Even the paper work takes about one month, before they wait for orders from let us say Nigeria, Tanzania and others who would take the textiles from here.
    So, I do not know which category that would fall.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Yes, Chairman?
    Mr Avedzi 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, again I would want Hon Members to look at this Bill as a Revenue Bill. It is a Revenue Bill, and the longer the period, the denial of appropriate Revenue for government. So, three months, if we import what we are talking about and we cannot process it, and we would want government to wait for us to receive our orders from other countries for us to re-export, government says that once we import, at that point, we place a bond.
    The bond is with government. If after three months you have not re-exported it, it is assumed that you have imported the goods into this country and for that matter, government takes the bond.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    Hon Members, if this thing is going to drag on unduly, I would suggest that we flag it, give ourselves some more time, deliberate upon it at Committee level, and then come back to the Chamber for further deli- berations am I with you?
    Mr Ofosu 12:10 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I think that would be very proper.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:10 p.m.
    So, let us flag this particular provision, and then if we have time, we move on to the next one. Otherwise, we could bring the pro- ceedings to a close for now and then the Committee can take a second look at this particular provision so that when we re convene, we can look at it again.
    Yes, Hon Chairman?
    Mr Avedzi 12:10 p.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker. I think that the Committee's position is three months and no further extension.So, if an Hon Member thinks the three months is too short therefore three and a half months or four months, that Member should propose an Amendment, then we would look at it .
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Very well. That is to give us time to be more elaborate. That is why I am suggesting
    that we flag it; if any Member has any proposal by way of amendment contrary to what the Committee is proposing, we would look at both of them before we take a decision one way or the other.
    All right, so we would flag this one. Table Office, please take note.
    I think that we can call off proceedings at this point in time, and have the House adjourned based on whatever is available to be dealt with.
    Hon Chairman of the Committee, we want to hear from you.
    Mr Avedzi 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I think you have already said it, that we can end proceedings. The Finance and Road and Transport Committees are going to meet right now. We would be happy if the House is adjourned.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:20 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
    Before you move the Motion, this brings us to the end of Consideration Stage for today.
    Mr Alfred Kwame Agbesi 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, today being the first day, we have done a lot on this Bill, and we would want to have further consultation. The other Business would be done tomorrow.
    At this juncture, I beg to move, that the House do adjourn till tomorrow 10:00 in the forenoon.
    Mr Dan Botwe 12:20 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    ADJOURNMENT 12:20 p.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 12:25 p.m till Wednesday, 11th June, 2014 at 10:00 a.m