Debates of 12 Mar 2015

PRAYERS 10:50 a.m.


Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon Members, Correction of the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 11th March, 2015.
Mr Alex Kyeremeh 10:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, on page 9, item numer 7 reads:
“The following Questions were asked of and answered by the Hon Deputy Minister for Education, Mr Alexander Kyeremeh…”
Mr Speaker, the name is “Alex Kyeremeh”.
Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
What is the full name of Alex? I just want to know.
Mr Kyeremeh 10:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, they are the same, but officially, it is “Alex Kyeremeh” and not “Alexander Kyeremeh”.
Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
But they are the same?
Mr Kyeremeh 10:50 a.m.
Yes, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
But your name is “Alex”?
Very well.
Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah 10:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister is right. Just as we have “Joseph Ghartey”, but he chooses to go

by “Joe Ghartey”; so we could go with the shortened form instead of the full form.
Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Very well. But they may mean the same thing, both the “Joe” and the “Joseph.”
Page 13 … 15.
Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 11 th March, 2015, as corrected, are adopted as the true record of proceedings.
We do not have any Official Report for correction for today. So, Statements.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin 10:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I am coming under Order 53(2), requesting your leave for us to vary the order of business as set out in the Order Paper for today.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance will be making a Statement, and definitely, that Statement will need your admission.
Mr Speaker, I believe that would be during the course of the day, and so, I am seeking your leave for us to move to the next item on the Order Paper, which is item number 4, the first item under Public Business, so that later on, we can come back to handle item number 3.
Mr Speaker, item 4(a) is an oversight, because it was laid yesterday. So, we will be taking item number 4(b), (i) and (ii).
Thank you.
Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon Members, item number 4 on the Order Paper, Presenta- tion of Papers -- item 4(b) (i).
PAPERS 10:50 a.m.

Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Bagbin 10:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, we can now move to item number 5, which is dealing with the Motion.
MOTIONS 10:50 a.m.

Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Hon Members, I will put the Question. Nobody is on his feet. I do not have any list from the Hon Leaders either -- [Pause.]
Hon Minority Leader, are we starting from the Majority side? I just got the list from the Majority side.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:50 a.m.
Mr Speaker, that is so. Because yesterday we began from the other side of the House.
Mr Speaker 10:50 a.m.
Very well.
Hon Essilfie?
Mr Gabriel Kodwo Essilfie (NDC -- Shama) 11 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to add my voice in thanking His Excellency, the President for delivering the State of the Nation Address to this august House.
Mr Speaker, I would start my submission on the State of the Nation Address by quoting from page 2, the words that the President presented. Mr Speaker, I beg to quote:
“The story of Ghana is illustrated by a quote of the great African, Nelson Mandela when he said, “the greatest glory of living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
Mr Speaker, that was a very important saying or quote from the great African.
Mr Speaker, this nation, like any other nation of the world, goes through periods of rising in our economy -- periods of rising in all sectors of this economy, and then periods of falling. But as a nation,
Mr Gabriel Kodwo Essilfie (NDC -- Shama) 11 a.m.
one thing we all have to understand is that, nothing is rosy in this world.
Mr Speaker, the President was very magnanimous in telling the whole nation that he recognises the challenges this nation is facing, and gave us a road map on how he will fix the challenges we are facing.

Mr Speaker, in that State of the Union Address, President Obama gave an analysis of where America had been and where it is today and how it can move forward, just as our President presented his.

Mr Speaker, when we read what President Obama presented, he said that America since 1999, had never seen the remarkable change and growth that they are experiencing today.

But how did they do it?

Mr Speaker, they did it by making sure that every citizen of America put their hands on the wheel to support their President to solve the problems of the nation -- [Uproar] -- But what do we do as a nation in Ghana? All we do is to climb the rooftops -- [Interruption] -- and keep criticising, but not offering solutions to help. We can turn this nation round.

Mr Speaker, our President gave us the assurance when he came to the dumsor or

Yesterday, Mr Speaker, while you were not in the Chair, I heard some of the Hon Members on the Minority side making trivial of the President's expression of the word “fixing”, and I went into the dictionary and defined for them what “fix” means.

But Mr Speaker, what is so interesting is that, a few days ago, the Hon Member, the Professor, my good Friend from Wenchi said,

“Growth or increase in r ice productivity or increase in livestock productivity does not represent economic transformation.”

Mr Speaker, the rice and livestock subsectors are both part of the agricultural sector.

Mr Speaker, what is economic transformation if a country that is importing rice to the tune of US$400 million, and also imports livestock is increasing its productivity? What that means is that we will have food sufficiency and possibly, even exporting, and therefore, imports will go down. When that goes down, with us moving from importing food to exporting or having self-sufficiency, I consider that to be economic transformation. [Hear! Hear!] [Interruption]
Prof. George Yaw Gyan-Baffour 11 a.m.
On a point of order.
Mr Speaker, my good Friend is misleading everybody here.
Mr Speaker, what I said was that the economic transformation is just a simple language “transforming the economy”. So, you are transforming the structure of the economy. That is what transformation is about. It is not about “operation feed yourself”; it is not about eating what you grow. That is not the issue. What I said was that economic transformation is
Mr Essilfie 11:10 a.m.
Mr Speaker, my Friend has already confirmed what he said. “Economic transformation” means transforming the economy. But the economy is not by itself in a vacuum. Economy includes sectors that grow or fall. So, when one talks about economic transformation, it includes the totality of all the sectors that make economic transformation -- [Hear! Hear!] -- So, the Hon Member cannot tell me that.
Mr Speaker, now, let me move to my most important area; which is corruption.
“When you live in a glass house, you do not throw stones”. [Hear! Hear!] Now, l e t me go t h r ough th ei r antecedent
Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Hon Member, you have one minute more.
I am just informing you.
Mr Essilfie 11:10 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I would beg you to give me additional minutes, because of the interruptions.
Dr Matthew O. Prempeh 11:10 a.m.
On a point of order.
Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Hon Member, what did you say?
Mr Essilfie 11:10 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I used “cat”, because most cats that I know, are black. [Laughter.] However, if you want to go to the real saying, then it is the “kettle calling the pot black”.
Mr Speaker, on corruption, we were all in this country when the chairman of a political party stated to the nation that kickbacks were being taken at the Presidency. There was nothing that the President came to tell the nation -- whether it was true.
We were also here when that President went somewhere in the Central Region, and said the kickbacks were being brought “waawaa” and that there were times that he had to pinch himself. Yet we did not see that President --
Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Hon Member, I gave you additional one minute -- your time is up.
Mr Essilfie 11:10 a.m.
Mr Speaker --
Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Hon Member, conclude!
Mr Essilfie 11:10 a.m.
In conclusion, Mr Speaker, I would want to tell all of us here and the whole country, that Ghana is for all of us, and for this nation to move forward, we have to be practical in what we do, and support the President to achieve whatever his vision is for us.
In doing so, we would all have a better place to live.
Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Hon Member for Anyaa/ Sowutuom -- Is that correct?
Ms Shirley A. Botchwey (NPP -- Anyaa/ Sowutuom) 11:10 a.m.
Yes, Mr Speaker.
I thank you for the opportunity to contribute, and to thank the President for the State of the Nation Address delivered to Parliament on Thursday, 26th February,
Mr Speaker, unfortunately, this State of the Nation Address, apart from the President talking about his achievements, was nothing more than a pep talk. The Address started with a quote from Nelson Mandela, which my Hon Colleague on the other side also quoted.

Mr Speaker, in my opinion, the real Ghana story is not as the President said it. The real Ghana story is one that is very bleak. We cannot see light at the end of the tunnel.

The Ghana story, is one where power is available to households and businesses for twelve hours, and for the next twenty four hours after that, there is no power. Our businesses have collapsed. Tailors, dressmakers, cold store operators, sachet water sellers and many, are all out of business. They are wondering where the next meal is going to come from to feed themselves and their families.

The real state of the nation, Mr Speaker, is that our market women from dawn to dusk sit behind their wares

wondering whether they would sell enough to be able to feed their families and themselves. A state where street hawkers now run after cars, and ask you to just offer them anything for their wares, so that they can have some money to buy food.

The true state of the nation, Mr Speaker, is that salaries of certain categories of workers - trainee nurses and teachers-- have not been paid. Their moneys are in arrears and it is difficult for them to make ends meet.

Mr Speaker, the real state of this nation is that of high unemployment, with our youth sitting at street corners and junctions, idling away. We all know that unemployed graduates have formed an association-- That is the true state of the nation.

Mr Speaker, moving on to national health. The whole purpose is being defeated. Mr Speaker, the Ghana story for the School Feeding Programme -- a pro- poor initiative, is no different. In this State of the Nation Address, the President did not even mention it.

Mr Speaker, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) for the School Feeding Authority said that majority of the schools in the Greater Accra Region, especially in the Accra metropolis, have been taken off the Programme. He said that this is the most logical thing to do, under the extreme and dire circumstances that the Programme is facing.

The manufacturing sector is on its knees -- it is dying fast. The cost of doing business is high. Mr Speaker, high interest rates, huge taxes, power outages, high utility bills, and unavailability of power, just to mention a few.

Our importers are feeling the pinch, because it is becoming impossible for them

to make any plans, based on the depreciating cedi. Within a space of a year, between the last State of the Nation Address in 2014 and 2015, the cedi has depreciated by 63 per cent, now selling at GH¢3.60 pesewas. That is the real state of the nation.

Mr Speaker, in 2008, an Hon Colleague of ours, in debating the State of the Nation Address, said that the people of Ghana were not interested in statistical figures -- I agree!

He said that they were interested in what was in their pockets, and what the money in their pockets could buy -- the purchasing power of what was in their pockets -- I agree!

He said that the President at the time, President J. A. Kufour, should have been talking about whether we could compare what was in our pockets with our salaries -- I totally agree!

He concluded by saying that the President was misleading this country. Mr Speaker, this was at a time, when fuel price was GH¢5, and it even went down to GH¢3.50 pesewas, and not GH¢14 per gallon, as it is today.

It was at a time, when the exchange rate was GH¢1.15 to the dollar, and not GH¢3.60 today. This was at a time when Value Added Tax (VAT) was 15 per cent, and not 17 per cent.

This was at a time when Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth was 8.3 per cent and not the projected 3.9 per cent as we are expecting this year. It was at a time when agriculture grew by 7.4 per cent, and not 0.8 per cent in 2011, 2.3 per cent in 2012, and 5.3 per cent in 2014. Food was affordable then.

This was at a time when a ball of kenkey was 30 pesewas, and not one Ghana cedi, as it is today. It was at a time when a bag of five kilogram rice was GH¢8.50, and not GH¢34, as it is today. When a tin of milk was 80 pesewas, and not GH¢3, as it is today.

Mr Speaker, it was at a time when cement was eight Ghana cedis, and not GH¢32 as it is today, when children rode free on buses, when the National Health Insurance was in tip-top shape.

Mr Speaker, we did not have to go in search of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). The gas companies came to our neighbourhoods and offered us gas to buy. This was at a time when there were no scandals like the one in the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) and Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) and huge judgement debts.

Mr Speaker, today, also on this side, I am telling the President that Ghana is in a very bleak, bleak, bleak situation. I am telling him the same thing-- stop, stop, stop misleading this country. I humbly ask him not to mislead Ghanaians and not to throw dust into our eyes, by giving us sugar-quoted words, by giving us what the youth call “raps”.

Sweet words have never put food on anybody's table; and to borrow the Nigerian parlance, I ask Mr President; “na sweet words, na love, Ghanaians go chop?” To wit, “we cannot feed on sugar- quoted words or pep talk”.

Mr President, in life, we cannot avoid climbing hills, but there are some hills which we just do not have to climb. We put you there because you can level the mountains and make the crooked places straight, as it is said in the Bible. Please,
Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon Majority Leader, are we continuing with the Motion?
Mr Bagbin 11:20 a.m.
Mr Speaker, with your kind leave and with the permission of my Hon Colleagues, the Hon Minister for Finance is ready to make the Statement and we would have to vary the order of Business and go back to Statements to give him the opportunity to do so.
Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon Members, earlier, the Hon Majority Leader made an application under Standing Order 53(2) to have the order of business varied, and, now, he says they are ready for Statements.
So, Hon Minority Leader, we are going back to Statements.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:20 a.m.
Mr Speaker, ordinarily, one would not have anything against this but I am concerned about what it is that we are doing. This is because, on the Order Paper of yesterday, the Provisional Order Paper for today indicated that, today, there was going to be a Motion in the name of the Hon Minister for Finance and the Motion reads:
“That this Honourable House adopts the Review of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government of Ghana for the 2015 Financial Year”.
Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon Majority Leader, do you have anything to say?
Mr Bagbin 11:20 a.m.
Mr Speaker, it is true that yesterday the Order Paper gave a provisional item that the Hon Minister for Finance would be appearing before the House to move a Motion for the review of the budget. Mr Speaker, this definitely is in consonance with the Business Statement that was presented to the House and adopted by the House.
Mr Speaker 11:20 a.m.
Hon Members, let us have order in the Chamber of the House.
Mr Bagbin 11:20 a.m.
Mr Speaker, as the Hon Majority Leader who is in charge of Government Business, definitely, I had to proffer an opinion on the matter. Mr Speaker, I am not a dead goat. -- [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I definitely had to do some consultation on the matter and I did go to the office of my Hon Colleague, the Hon Minority Leader, to share this matter with him. Fortunately for me, I met a number of Hon Colleagues on the Minority side of the House and then we held a very cordial discussion.
Mr Speaker, I have no problem with anybody disagreeing with my opinion and advice in the matter. That definitely is democratic. But I am giving a background to how come this has occurred as raised by the Hon Minority Leader. So, Mr Speaker, I accordingly advised that it would be better and more informative for the Hon Minister for Finance to come under Order 70 (2) to state the facts for Hon Members to be given the opportunity to make comments and for the House to decide what to do with it.
Mr Speaker, we have had instances in this matter starting from 1999 and I know that it was followed in about 2007, and even continued recently by the Hon Minister himself. So, it is the same opportunity we are giving to the House.
Mr Speaker, as I said, this is the reason the matter is coming before the House.
Mr Speaker, [Interruptions.] I know that under Order 56 (2) which says, with your permission, I beg toquote;
“The Chairman of the Business Committee may make supplemen- tary statements whenever the Committee so decides.”

Mr Speaker, some Hon Members are now catching the eye of the Hon Majority Leader. I think they should be catching the eye of the Speaker.

So, Mr Speaker, that I agree with, but I thought after holding the consultations with my Hon Colleagues, I could do that today and that was why I sought your
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, it is important to set the records straight.
The Hon Majority Leader came to my office. I had gone to him earlier. When subsequently he came to my office, he came to relay some information to me.

Mr Speaker, he is asking whether transmission of the information does not amount to consultation. [Laughter.] He knows that it does not amount to consultation. [Interruptions.] Mr Speaker, since he insists, if the Hon Majority Leader sits in his office and listens to news from Joy FM, it is transmission of information, they are consulting him [Laughter.] Let us not go there.

Mr Speaker, the issue is, he came to inform me and I said I disagreed with the modus. In any event, he admits that, indeed and in truth, this is the remit of the Business Committee. With respect, it does not lie in the mouth of anybody to overnight substitute his own opinion. That is incorrect.

Mr Speaker, I say so because, the information that would be given to us by the Hon Minister, in my view, because it is going to go to the core of matters, especially the activities, the programme and projects of Government over one year, we need, perhaps, to go to the bottom of some of these things. It cannot just be information to us. This is because, a
Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon Members, I have listened carefully to the two Leaders. Standing Order 70 (2) under which the Hon
Minister is coming states 11:30 a.m.
“A Minister of State may make an announcement or a statement of government policy. Any such announcement or statement should be limited to facts which it is deemed necessary to make known to the House and should not be designed to provoke debate at this stage. Any Member may comment briefly, subject to the same limitation”.
My view of the matter is that, if you compare that to Standing Order 72, the Speaker has a role to play. This is because, if you are a Member of Parliament, you have to clear your Statement with me. If you look at Standing Order 70(2), Hon Ministers do not clear with me. That is the difference between the two. However, we are masters of our procedures -- [Interruption.] We need to listen -- [Some Hon Members druming]
Hon Members, those who want to turn themselves into drum beaters, I will invoke the rules -- [Interruptions.] There are procedures in this House.
Hon Members, a Minister of State is coming to make a Statement. Let us listen to him. If the Statement is the one that is invoking any power of Parliament constitutionally, then the House may decide to take it to the next level.
If it is giving information, so be it. If the Statement is one that involves an
approval process, then the House may have to do so by the proper process of a Motion. If it is one of information, the Hon Minister is entitled to provide the information.
Hon Members, so we need to listen to the Hon Minister -- [Interruption] before we can make a determination on this matter.
Some Hon Members 11:30 a.m.
Motion! Motion!
Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon Members, I have not read the Statement, therefore, it is important to listen to the -- [Interruptions.]
Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon Members, I refer the whole House to Standing Order 100 (1). It states:
“Mr Speaker may order a Member whose conduct is grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately from the House during the remainder of that day's sitting, and the Marshal shall act on such orders as he may receive from the Chair in pursuance of the provisions of this paragraph. But if on any occasion Mr Speaker deems that his powers under the previous provisions of this paragraph are inadequate, he may name such Member or Members, in which event the same procedure shall be followed as is prescribed in Order 99, this Order and Order 101".

11. 40 a.m.

Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Bagbin 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, with your kind permission, I would want to request that we take a very short suspension of Sitting -- [Interruption] to be able to do so -- [Pause.]
Mr Speaker, this is to give Leadership the opportunity to assist you to maintain order for proceedings to continue in the House. I think that we should suspend Sitting for a few minutes. I have had consultation with my Hon Colleagues on the Minority side and I think that we agreed that we should take a short suspension.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, as the Hon Majority Leader has done by making this application to you, an application in respect of the suspension of Sitting for a brief while, I would want to endorse that proposal to you.
Mr Speaker, the Leadership of the House is required to assist the Chair in maintaining order in the House and I would want to endorse the proposal submitted by the Hon Majority Leader in order for us to have some consultations among ourselves.
I believe by the time that we resume, we should have order in the House. Perhaps, there may be some other things that could be done in our meeting. I believe it should be possible for us to meet if we agree for the suspension and to meet among ourselves and then chart the better way forward.
Mr Speaker, I thank you.
Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon Members, I will accede to the request of the two Leaders but I am doing so because it is important to place on record that we are not doing anything new in this Chamber by allowing the Hon Minister to make a Statement.
Mr Bagbin 11:30 a.m.
Mr Speaker, just 30 minutes would do; within 30 minutes, we should be able to come back.
Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon Members, the House is suspended for 30 minutes.
Thank you.
11:47 a.m. -- Sitting suspended.
3.20 p.m. -- Sitting resumed.
Mr Speaker 11:30 a.m.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Bagbin 11:30 a.m.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for all the patience. We requested for a thirty-minute break and it has taken a lot more time than anticipated.
We would now, with your kind permission, take item number 3, which is Statements.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:30 a.m.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. Let me also express gratitude to Hon Colleagues who have stood firm in spite of the vicissitudes of the morning.
I believe that we did not conclude the issue of procedure even though we made an intervention to try to make a suggestion the way forward. But I believe that for the avoidance of doubt, I would want to state my position and listen to you for any directive and with respect to the Chair, we would be guided.
Mr Speaker, the issue that I raised was in respect of Order 160 (2), which provides that it is the duty of the Business Committee to and with your kind permission, I beg to quote:
“…determine the business of each Sitting and the order in which it shall be taken;”
Mr Speaker, Order 54 (4) provides that and with your kind permission, I beg to quote:
“Not more than one such motion shall be submitted for any one day…”
Some of us were minded not to push for the inclusion of any Motion for today's Sitting because, one had already been programmed. So, when it happens over night that that Motion is no longer to be heard, one would want to believe that it was not a subtle attempt to just encumber that date and then ensure subsequently that nothing happens.
Mr Speaker, the Business Statement for the Sixth Week ending, Friday, the 13th of March, 2015, was submitted to this House by the Hon Majority Leader who is the Chairman of the Business Committee and it provides that there shall be a review of the budget on Thursday, 12th March, 2015, which is today. Indeed, on yesterday's Provisional Order Paper, it provided that there was going to be this review. It was advertised, to quote what obtained yesterday, with your kind permission:
“That this Honourable House adopts the Review of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the 2015 Financial Year.”
Today, the Motion which was advertised yesterday disappeared from the Order Paper and it does not come with any explanation. We hear a Statement is to be read. But what has happened such that that Motion has disappeared? This House needs to be informed appropriately.
Again, Standing Order 53 (1) provides that the business for each Sitting day, as decided by the Business Committee, shall be transacted in the House -- the business for each Sitting day -- And today is a Sitting day -- as decided by the Business Committee. This means that every business, including this Statement that we are being told is going to be read, ought to have been routed through the Business Committee, yet the Business Committee had no idea.
Mr Speaker, as I said earlier, we were told that we were to expect a Motion as provided for by Standing Order 7 which indicates to us that a matter that comes through a Motion would be subjected to consideration and decision by the House. When a Motion is heard and debated, the
Hon Speaker, by the end of it, puts a Question, which would suggest the direction that the House wants to take. The Question which is provided under Standing Order 70 does not allow for a decision or approval by the House.
So, Mr Speaker, this being a very important matter before this House and which would have serious implications for this country, the representative of this country, as this House is composed of, should at least, be better briefed to subject the matter to some form of debate and analysis for us to agree with the Minister for Finance on the decision that is taken for and on behalf of the country. This has not happened. So, as a matter of procedure, we thought that we should raise these matters and that is why I still deem it appropriate and relevant to raise these matters and to require that we have answers to them.
Mr Speaker, on that note, I would want to wait for your direction and if there is any response from my Hon Colleague the Majority Leader, who is also the Chairman of the Business Committee, I guess we can make further progress.
Mr Bagbin 11:30 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
I thought that my Hon Colleague was not going to belabour this matter but this House is guided by rules and conventions and practices.
Early in the morning, I narrated truthfully what took place and even apologised for not getting back to the Business Committee to get this re- arranged by the Business Committee. I also stated that I could not do that because early this morning, I was caught up in other very urgent matters.
Mr Speaker, I was doing all this because I thought that by my understanding of the Standing Orders, this is how it should follow. But when it comes to practice and convention, Mr
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 3:30 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I believe, as the Hon Majority Leader said, this House is governed by rules and I accept that some conventions could also filter through.
But for the avoidance of doubt, what was done by the Hon Osafo Marfo was a mid-year review which was delivered very late into the year. Mid-year reviews come in the form of Statements and that was what happened. I think that is the difference.
But having said that, I thought we should respect procedures and that is why I am raising these matters. It is not intended to erect any impediment but just to inform you that the proper thing must be done. That is the import of what I said.

Mr Speaker, but the Hon Majority Leader knows that what is going to happen today is not a mid-year review. The Hon Minister responsible for Finance, even though he is not looking in my direction, agrees with me that this is not a mid-year review.

As I said, I raised the issues because, earlier some indications had been given that because it is a Statement, we must listen to it first in order to know the direction. Statements of that nature do not need to have the clearance of the Chair, which is from the Speaker and I agree.

But it is still part of the business of this House that must be programmed by the Business Committee. This is because, the Standing Orders provide that the business for each Sitting day, as decided by the Business Committee, shall be set out in the Order Paper. So, it should have come to the Business Committee for programming, whether it had clearance from Mr Speaker. That was the point I wanted to make.

Mr Speaker, as I have said, the rest is in your bosom.
Mr Speaker 3:30 p.m.
Hon Leaders, I thank you very much.
As I indicated this morning, I had a meeting with my Procedural Clerks the best way forward in handling this matter when I was informed it was going to be a Statement. We looked at the rules of the House and we were also guided by precedents. What is battling this House cropped up in the Statement presented on the 27th of October, 1999, as mentioned by the Hon Majority Leader. Hon Members raised the issue whether it should not have come by a Motion but by ordinary Statement.
The first Speaker of the Fourth Republic allowed a Statement to be made and took comments thereon. He said if people wanted to look at the other issue of Motion, they could do it.
I also looked at the precedent of the second Speaker of the Fourth Republic and that would be found in column 1059 of the Official Report of Tuesday, 12th November, 2002. It was a Statement on review economic performance for 2002 financial year.
As history would have it, I was the one who raised the issues whether it should not come by Motion based on the earlier issues raised in 1999. The then Speaker, the late Hon Peter Ala Adjetey directed that, given the rules of the House, it should be a Statement and comments should be made on it.
Again, as history would have it, the Hon Member for Tema West, Mr A. O. Aidooh, who later rose to become the Hon Majority Leader and a very respected Member of this House, had this to say when I raised the issue on the floor:
“Mr Speaker, just for the records, a review need not be by Motion”
Hon Members, at the end of it, the second Speaker of the Fourth Republic, was also confronted with the issue that is confronting this House today. He said that the Standing Orders should be reviewed.
Hon Members, it is therefore, not surprising that the issue has cropped up again on the floor of the House. It also shows the character of politicians. Depending on where we sit --[Laughter.] -we raise certain issues. This includes my goodself, when I was a politician -- [Laughter.]
So, Hon Members, I will urge all of you to look for those Hansards and read them because they are very interesting. We are not doing anyth ing new.
STATEMENTS 3:40 p.m.

Minister for Finance (Mr Seth E. Terkper) 3:40 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I appear before you today to apprise Parliament and through Hon Members, the people of Ghana on the implications of the decline in crude oil prices and its likely impact on the 2015 Budget.
The purpose of the Statement is also to inform you of the steps Government has been taking to address the said issue, to ensure that the macroeconomic objectives of Government is achieved.
Mr Speaker, it is important to stress that the steps which Government is taking are in line with measures and policies approved by this august House in the 2015 Budget.
Following my appearance before this House in November 2014 and the subsequent approval of the 2015 Budget, the sharp decline in crude oil prices on
Mr Speaker 4:15 p.m.
Hon Ranking Member? [Pause.]
Hon Members, the Hon Minister for Finance came under Standing Order 70 (2) and the concluding part of that rule is that:
“Any Member may comment briefly, subject to the same limitation.”
That is limited to the facts stated in the Reviewed Budget Statement by the Hon Minister for Finance.
Hon Ranking Member on the Finance Committee?
Some Hon Members 4:15 p.m.
We do not know.
Dr A. A. Osei 4:15 p.m.
We know that it is a prior action. Let us not lie. A prior action means -- [Interruption] -- my Hon Friend, do you want me to pull it out?
Some Hon Members 4:15 p.m.
Pull it out.
Mr Speaker 4:15 p.m.
Hon Member, continue. Address the Chair.
Dr A. A. Osei 4:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, so, those of us on this side, taking cognisance of the fact that Ghana must move forward, we are going backward -- has conceded to allow the Statement you made, so that the nation can meet its obligations. If it was not for that, I think there would have been a difficulty. Why? The problem is that if it is a matter of reducing expenditure, the Appropriation Act says that up to 44 billion. So, if for obvious reasons, he is spending less, he does not need to come here.
But he is coming here for a reason, which as I said, is a prior action and we have no difficulty with that. I think that point should have been made, that it is for the sake of an agreement that they have made, for which the President has told us and he is reporting under his directives -- there is no difficulty. As he is aware, there is a time line for the IMF internal process to proceed but let it not be said that it is the IMF that is imposing. It is a Government agreed fiscal solution to a problem. It will come with hardships, Mr Minister for Finance. The question is, what kind of hardships are we expected to bear?
You know, the President, when he came the last time, talked about the increase in the Energy Fund Levy. Fortunately, this was a Statement that does not imply an implementation of that policy. So, we expect that, as he said, he may come back with a review in July thereabout. At that time, if there is a tax increase, then we should know because the President has so declared to the nation.
Secondly, as he said, there would be one pesewa increase in electricity tariffs -- [Interruption] -- One pesewa, not GH¢1.00, please. The State of the Nation Address says one pesewa per kilowatt hour, which will come when they are ready to implement it. I think at that time, Parliament will have the chance to debate it. [Interruption.] He is asking me to comment on this when he just gave it to me. So, I am commenting on what I know -- [Interruption]
An Hon Member 4:15 p.m.
It is not there.
Dr A. A. Osei 4:15 p.m.
It is not where? No! We should anticipate the reality. [Interruptions.]
Mr Speaker, our President, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, in his State of the Nation Address told us and he wants to hide it from us? His job is to tell what the President wants to do. I am going to tell the President that you are telling lies about him. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, it is very serious. Are you challenging the President?
Mr Speaker 4:15 p.m.
Hon Member for Old Tafo, are you addressing the Chair or you are addressing the Hon Deputy Minister?
Dr A. A. Osei 4:15 p.m.
I am addressing you. It appears the Hon Deputy Minister -- Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance is very quiet but the Hon Deputy Minister
is trying to challenge the President. It is not good for Ghana. This is because the President asked the Hon Minister to have a discussion with us; I was hoping that the Minister would say that he had been directed by the President, that at some point in time he should come here with that policy because the President specifically mentioned measures.
He knows the measures mean tax increases. Tax increases will bring changes in petroleum products. So, Mr Minister for Finance, when you come and if you come in July, we expect that these issues will be adequately addressed, so that we can address our constituents.
When we leave here on March 26, our constituents will be asking us; “So, what the content of the IMF programme is?” We would not have had the chance to see the full details till after April. What are we going to tell our constituents? This is why I expected that we would have been given some details but it is understandable, the condition said “public announcement”. So, he has made a public announcement.

Mr Speaker, the former Hon Minister for Energy and Petroleum, now the Hon Minister for Petroleum just got up. So Mr Speaker, part of the reason we are in the situation in which we find ourselves, is the difficulties in that sector.

Mr Speaker, because of that, the Hon Minister for Finance is having to revise the deficit to 7.5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Most of it, I hate
Mr Speaker 4:25 p.m.
Hon Ranking Member of the Finance Committee, you do not respond to things that are not on record. Whoever you might have heard has not said anything which is on record or has been captured in the Hansard. You should not respond to anybody whose statement is not on record, and you should address the Chair. [Interruptions.]
Dr A. A. Osei 4:25 p.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I take your advice, that a Statement should not provoke a debate. I do not intend to provoke a debate. I am
offering a piece of advice from this side of the House, so that we can move forward.
The increase in the deficit, Mr Speaker, which is implied in the programme -- my understanding, if I am wrong, the Hon Minister should tell me. From now till 2017, every year, the programme intends to reduce the deficit by two percentage points of GDP.
Mr Speaker, what that means in simple language is that, every year, we have to raise revenue or cut expenditures or both, to the tune of two per cent of GDP for the next three years -- 7.5 in 2016, 5.5 in 2017 and 3.5 in 2018.
Mr Speaker, if this programme is approved by the Fund, it would mean that it would end in 2018 -- three years. So, whoever assumes the Presidency in 2017 would be faced with this albatross round the neck of the people of Ghana. So, all of us should appreciate the consequences, so that when decisions are taken, we know what they are about. This is because they will be till 2018.
Mr Speaker, because you advised that it is not to provoke a debate, I would want to urge the Hon Minister, that all those measures that are proposed should be done in a way that Parliament is frequently apprised of them. We on our side would be ensuring that these things are done.
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would want to advise the Hon Minister, as I told him earlier, that there are some issues relating to this august House. I was absent earlier when the Hon Majority Leader spoke. But my advice is that, for the sake of the people of Ghana, the work of this House must be allowed to continue in a manner that Hon Members would feel free to pursue their work.
Mr Speaker 4:25 p.m.
Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee?
Hon Members, I am taking two contributions from each side. So, it would remain one contribution from the Minority side, and one from the Majority side after the Hon Chairman.
Mr James K. Avedzi (NDC-- Ketu North) 4:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Statement made by the Hon Minister on the implications of the fall of the crude oil prices on the 2015 Budget.
Mr Speaker, we know that the comments would not provoke debate and for that matter, I would not comment on some of the issues which were raised by the Hon Ranking Member of the Committee.
Mr Speaker, it is good that the Hon Minister for Finance comes to the House. We as the people's representatives need to have information, and know what effects the fall in the crude oil prices would have on the 2015 Budget Statement.
Mr Speaker, if you listened to the Hon Minister and read the Statement, it is very clear that the amount estimated to be received from the petroleum sector for the 2015 Budget Statement was GH¢ 4.2 billion.
But Mr Speaker, when the Hon Minister used the benchmark price of US$99.38 per barrel, the price has fallen to a little above US$50. If you look at a straightforward arithmetic, if the price has fallen by 50 per cent, you would think that you would also want to reduce the estimate of GH¢4.2 billion by 50 per cent, which would give you GH¢2.1 billion. If you do that, you are making a mistake.
This is because the price of GH¢ 4.2 billion is not arrived at using only the price of the US$99.38 per barrel and the quantity of 102,033. The estimate of GH¢4.2 billion in the Budget Statement was arrived at by looking at Ghana's share of crude whenever it is sold, the corporate income tax which comes from the profit made by the oil companies and then the Special Petroleum Tax, which would be collected on that.
So, if the price has changed, those would definitely be affected. That is why the Hon Minister is telling us that the new estimate is GH¢1.5 billion, instead of the GH¢4.2 billion which was estimated in the 2015 Budget Statement.

Mr Speaker, I am saying this because I would want to educate all of us. Therefore, Hon Members should listen for us to know the implication of that.

Mr Speaker, if you read the Hon Minister's Statement and listened to him, by increasing the deficit from 6.5 to 7.5, it would mean that while the revenue is going to reduce by GH¢2.7 billion, expenditure would not reduce to that figure. The Hon Minister is considering the effect if we should also reduce the expenditure by the same amount. That is why he is not maintaining a deficit of 6.5, but 7.5, in order for MDAs and MMDAs budgets not to be reduced to that level.

Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister also mentioned that the reduction in the ceiling for the MDAs for items (2) and (3) would
Mr Speaker 4:35 p.m.
Hon Minority Leader, I will pick one person from your side. You are the Minority Leader -- the Leader of the Opposition in this House and I can give you more time if you would want to speak. That is the practice in any civilised Parliament.
Who should I call from your side? After that, Hon Minority Leader, I will give you all the time up to tomorrow at 6.00 a.m. if you would want to speak. But I am limiting it to three contributors for a very good reason.
On a more serious note, we did not prepare for this extended Sitting up to this time.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 4:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, the Hon (Dr) Assibey-Yeboah -- I would plead with you, Mr Speaker, it is a mixture. We are dealing with finances as well, because this whole business is predicated on energy issues. I would plead that you would allow the Hon Member who is our spokesperson on energy to make some small inputs, then I would just encapsulate whatever they say.
Mr Speaker 4:35 p.m.
Hon Members, I will accommodate it, but the rule is clear; it should be brief comments. This is because the Hon Member for Old Tafo is the spokesperson for the Minority on Finance I did not allow anybody to interfere with your contribution. You are the main person responding to the Hon Minister for Finance. That is why I did not take any point of order.
Hon Member, it should be very brief comments. The rules are very clear. If you go beyond what I understand to be brief, I will do the obvious.
Hon Member, you have the floor.
Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah (NPP -- New Juabeng South) 4:35 p.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, but I am overawed because it is as though I am being cowed into a --
Mr Speaker, to start with, the Hon Minister says our revenue is going to decline by about GH¢3.1 billion and all the emphasis has been laid on the fact that we are exporting crude, and crude oil prices are declining.
Mr Speaker, we are a net importer of crude. We did not hear anything on the expenditure side. Inasmuch as we export crude, we buy more crude. So, revenue is declining not only because crude prices are going down, but because the energy crisis is deepening. Revenues are declining because our currency is depreciating fast. I thought the Hon Minister would have been kind to the House to highlight this too. Let it be known that we are a net importer of crude, so as crude prices decline, we benefit.
Mr Speaker, again, we are being told that we are going to the international capital market to borrow in the Eurobond market. That is why the deficit is now going to 7.5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Initially, we programmed a deficit of 6.5 per cent of GDP. The borrowing is becoming too much. As we are not debating and we are offering advice, so, let us cut down on the borrowing.
This is because another GH¢1billion Eurobond in this year, sooner than later the debt to GDP ratio, as you know, is already around 70 per cent.
Our debt is unsustainable and the Fund has said it. Mr Speaker, our debt is unsustainable and I would urge the Hon Minister to cut down on the borrowing.
Mr Speaker 4:35 p.m.
Everybody should take a cue from the Hon Member. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker 4:35 p.m.
Hon Members, let me remind you again; it is comments and you should not provoke debate.
Mr Kwetey 4:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I rise to make a comment on the Statement made by the Hon Minister for Finance on the implications on the fall in crude oil prices on the 2015 Budget. In doing so, I wish to congratulate the Hon Minister for Finance for presenting to this House and through this House, to the whole of the country, the set of measures that he is proposing to help us go through this rather unexpected difficulty.
First of all, Mr Speaker, I wish to congratulate the Hon Minister because in other dispensations, with some of these sudden difficulties, the problems we foresee are problems that sometimes affect even payment of salaries to workers. Some countries would have to go through several months of not paying salaries.
Some countries have to resolve to drastic increase in taxations. In this proposal that we are seeing today, we are seeing none of these situations.
Mr Kwetey 4:35 p.m.
Some countries resolve to cutting down the numbers even in the public sector in order to be able to tide over. We are very happy that the set of proposals we have today do not contain any of those rather draconian measures. It clearly shows that we have in mind the need to be able to tide over these difficulties without imposing too much direct hardships on the people of Ghana.
I wish to state for instance, that taking the Stabilisation Fund in order to be able to cushion this, shows that together, both the Minority and the Majority, at the time we were formulating the Petroleum Revenue Management Act were visionary in making sure that we make the provisions, so that in times of difficulty, we would draw from that Stabilisation Fund in order to support the budget.
Mr Speaker, I would want to say that, the fact that we now have a budget deficit estimated to rise to 7.5 per cent instead of the 6.5 per cent, clearly shows that, given external difficulties, there is always room to be able to make an adjustment even to numbers that we have targeted to achieve.
Mr Speaker, I heard a comment just briefly on the fact that we are a net importer rather than a net exporter and that is true. The truth of the matter is that, as far as revenue of the country is concerned, being a net importer or net exporter is immaterial. This is because revenues do not have anything to do with net importer or net exporter.
That has relevance to the balance of payment position of the country and the issues here have nothing to do with balance of payment at all. They have to do with revenue. Therefore, we have to bear in mind that being a net importer does not necessarily affect the issue of revenue.

Mr Speaker, additionally, the fact that we are making this intervention, gives us the predictability needed. The predic- tability that would enable us to be able to continue to be attractive --
Mr Speaker 4:45 p.m.
Hon Members, I have decided as much as possible not to take points of order, so that we could listen to ourselves.
Dr A. A. Osei 4:45 p.m.
On a point of order.
Mr Speaker, for the records, I do not know if he meant to say it -- But to say something like “This has nothing to do with the balance of payment” is completely misleading this House.
Mr Speaker, the essence of an IMF programme is to provide balance of payment support. So, he should not make that statement, otherwise, he would be misleading the whole nation.”
Mr Speaker 4:45 p.m.
I did not hear him mention “balance of payment”.
Did you mention “balance of payment?”
Dr A. A. Osei 4:45 p.m.
Maybe, that is not what he meant to say but he said that.
Mr Speaker 4:45 p.m.
Hon Minister for Food and Agriculture, what did you say?
Mr Kwetey 4:45 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I did not make any reference to IMF with regard to balance of payment. I said that one Hon Member on the other side spoke about the fact that Ghana is now a net importer of oil and not a net exporter and I said that as far as these issues of implication to our national revenue are concerned, being a net importer or exporter has no direct relevance to revenue. It has relevance to balance of payment. That is the point I made and it is valid.
Mr Speaker 4:45 p.m.
He said it has relevance to balance of payment. That is the statement he was making.
Hon Members, that is his opinion.
Dr A. A. Osei 4:45 p.m.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister has just told us the implications of oil prices from revenue. That is the Hon Minister's Statement. So, how could he say that it has no relevance to revenue? We cannot have it both ways.
Mr Speaker, the point is that the two are related. They cannot be disassociated; it is a fact. I am just saying that let us not give an impression that they are unrelated; they are tied together.
Mr Speaker 4:45 p.m.
Hon Minister?
Mr Kwetey 4:45 p.m.
Mr Speaker, to conclude, I would want to once more congratulate the Hon Finance Minister and to express the happiness that throughout these difficulties, he has not had to make a resort to the sale of any national asset like Ghana Telecom [Hear! Hear!] in order for us to reach where we are.
On that note, thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker 4:45 p.m.
Hon K. T. Hammond, your brief comment.
Mr Kobina T. Hammond (NPP - Adansi Asokwa) 4:45 p.m.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to make a few comments on the Statement made by the Hon Minister.
Mr Speaker, they are really two very short ones. The first one is an invitation to the Hon Minister to visit the figures again. This is because maybe, others may have understood them better than I did. But if the Hon Minister was suggesting that we are going to have a daily production of 102,033 barrels a day and
base it on the IMF indicated price of US$52.8, I do not understand how he got to the point where he said that the figure was going to be predicated from that but in the future. He anticipate further production which he does not appear to have factored into the calculations that he has made on the basis of the 102,033 barrels times US$52.8 that he was talking about.
I think he should have a good look at that and see if the interpretation is right. I have a difficulty with that.
Mr Terkper 4:45 p.m.
On a point of order.
Mr Speaker, just a quick correction.
Mr Hammond 4:45 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I was actually going to go immediately to the taxation thing he is talking about but the point I made is the production multiplied by the price. Then he said that there would be further increase in production. So, if there would be further increase in production, then we are not going to have 102,033 but we are going to have more than that, possibly, 120,000 or whatever. That is the bid that I am making reference to.
But on the point of the taxation, I made a very important contribution to that and I am going to do that now. This is because he said it in paragraph 13, that the various sources of petroleum revenue and so on -- Significant decline in the petroleum receipts is mainly attr ibutable to substantial decline in corporate taxation.
Mr Speaker 4:45 p.m.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Agbesi 4:55 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I am sorry to interrupt.
The Statement that the Hon Minister has made and the contribution that the Hon Member for Adansi Asokwa is making, is leading to a debate. He is virtually provoking debate on the figures he is mentioning -- It is leading to a debate. I would plead with my Hon Colleague to stay within the rules, so that there is no debate on the floor.
Mr Hammond 4:55 p.m.
Mr Speaker, so, the Ghanaian workforce, which is only about 250 out there, which by law, should be trained and retained for Ghana to benefit from, is being threatened with reedun- ancy. But in the scheme of things, what is worrying is that, that size of labour -- That size of workforce, 250 are taking only about GH¢20 million, and we are looking at expatriates of the size of about only 200 who are taking GH¢160 million.
So, if the Hon Minister for Finance talks about corporate taxation, which is dwindling, the reason it is dwindling is that, this money is leaving our shores to
go to other jurisdictions where the losses that these companies are making are coming from.
Mr Speaker, as I try to wind up, I also do know that these companies are now in consultation with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and asking for some other capital gains and other taxation benefits.
Mr Speaker, I bring this to the attention of the Hon Minister for Finance because I think it is very critical. He should look at it to protect the workforce of Ghana and to protect our revenues which are going to other jurisdictions over which we have no control and where we have not contributed to the losses of these operators in the Jubilee Fields.
Thank you.
Mr Speaker 4:55 p.m.
Hon Minister for Employment and Labour Relations?
Minister for Employment and Labour Relations (Mr Haruna Iddrisu) 4:55 p.m.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to make a comment on the Statement ably presented by the Hon Minister for Finance on the implications of the fall in crude oil prices and its impact on the 2015 Budget Statement.
Mr Speaker, in doing so, I intend to comment on just two issues -- the first one is on the pledge by the Hon Minister in paragraph 9, to introduce an amendment to the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (Act 815). To say so, Mr Speaker, the review of this legislation has become imperative.
This is because we are told that the computation and calculation of the benchmark revenue, which resulted in us projecting at US$99 per barrel was occasioned largely by the Hon Minister and his team's respect for the provisions of the Petroleum Revenue Management
Act. There were many who even derided the Hon Minister, asking why was he, in the face of falling oil prices, still projecting at US$99.
Mr Speaker, what the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) tells us is that the Minister and Government were legally constrained. We have also been constrained in many respects by the operations of the Act since its passage in
Mr Speaker, what is even significant is that the law itself provided for a review of the process even in defining the priority areas that should benefit from benchmark revenue.
I trust that when the amendment Bill is introduced, we will deal with it expeditiously and cloak the Hon Minister for Finance with some authority in discussing the disbursement of some of these Funds, particularly the Stabilisation Fund that he referred to. This is because if we had not created that buffer, he would not have a fallback position today in order to be able to profit from that Fund, so that he would use it to stabilise the economy.
Mr Speaker, my other comment is on the Hon Minister's indication of his optimism about a Fund programme, a three-year programme which was likely to rake in close to one billion Ghana cedis United States support, largely to support balance of payment. Our Hon Colleagues on the other side appreciate that the clean bill of health that we will get from the IMF also allows us to carve in more private capital into the economy, which would help us to deal with many of our infrastructure issues.
Mr Speaker, in commenting on this issue, it is important to note that the President himself, as advised by our Hon Colleagues on the other side, has looked at some contents of the text of the press statement on Government going back to the IMF. The President has indicated somewhere publicly that “let this be the last time that Government is going into a Fund programme with the IMF.”
Mr Speaker 5:05 p.m.
Hon Minority Leader?
Minority Leader (Mr Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) 5:05 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I thought the Hon Member from Wenchi was your Friend.
Mr Speaker 5:05 p.m.
He is just my Friend; he is my very good friend. But on this occasion, we have agreed that we are taking four each.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 5:05 p.m.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
In rising to contribute to the Statement made by the Hon Minister for Finance, I think it is important to state in respect of an incident that happened in this House earlier, in 1999 and indeed, post 2000.
Mr Speaker, the engagement of this House by the then Hon Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, the Hon Osafo Marfo, I must explain, was a mid- year review. We would recollect that it was intended to be submitted in this House in August.
Unfortunately, even though we waited for him to bring the mid-year review to this House in August, it never came. When we came back in the budget year, we insisted that it ought to be done to precede the budget and that indeed, is what happened.
It was a mid-year review that was submitted very late in the day.
Mr Speaker, that is a matter of record in this House. I also think it is important to state for the records that this Statement that has come to this House from the Hon Minister for Finance is entitled, “The implications of the fall in crude oil prices on the 2015 Budget”. Mr Speaker, I would submit that there is more to this than just the fall in crude oil prices.

Mr Speaker, this business is at the instance of our engagement with the IMF; the engagement with the IMF preceded the fall in the prices of the crude oil. Let nobody make any hiding of this. The truth is that we had engaged in a lot of fiscal indiscipline and a lot of fiscal space has been eroded for real growth and that occasioned our engagement with the IMF.

I agree that indeed, the situation has been exacerbated by the fall in oil prices. But let nobody tell Ghanaians that this is the sole reason; it is not.

Mr Speaker, we told the Hon Minister for Finance in a debate of the Budget Statement in November and December last year, that because of the funding gaps, some projections which we felt were doubtful, it will be necessary to come to this House; and the Hon Minister himself agreed that because of the additional imperilment occasioned by the fall in crude oil prices, certainly, it will be necessary to come to this House. This is what is happening today.

Mr Speaker, because of the fast-falling crude oil prices, and the fact also that the negotiations with the IMF had not been concluded, we suggested that perhaps, it would have been feasible to have a vote on account at the time and then for a real budget to be introduced to the House at this time -- January or February, 2015.

That piece of advice was not heeded. But the value of what we are doing or anticipate to do, ensuring from this Statement, Mr Speaker, it will be the same; it will be a reviewed budget. That is, whether we say that we are coming by a Statement or whatever, it is going to end up in a reviewed budget.

Mr Speaker, I may want to seek some clarifications from the Hon Minister. This

is because this Statement is predicated on what assurances have been given by the IMF; that is the staff approval that we have. As the Hon Minister told us, the Board itself will meet in April, 2015. Mr Speaker, can we be sure? Is there that 100 per cent certainty that willy-nilly, the Board will approve of the recommenda- tions by the staff who were here for which reason, we must base our hopes on the submissions the Hon Minister has given us?

Mr Speaker, it is not a fait accompli. Even though almost invariably, they may concur, there have been instances where there have been some difficulties and a further review of the assessment has been given by the staff. So, I am not too sure. Maybe, the Hon Minister may provide that comfort to us.

Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister has indicated to us that we will have some reductions, because the projections are not going to be met. The amounts that will be reduced will certainly have effect on our national life; it cannot affect personal emoluments as we have been told. The deduction will not affect debt servicing but it will affect capital investments; it will affect the supply of goods and services.

Mr Speaker, so, we may want to know the various areas in particular, since the Hon Minister keeps referring to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs); it will affect MDAs.

Mr Speaker, we have had an Appropriation Act passed by this House and it affects in particular, as the Hon Ranking Member alluded to, some concerns which do not come directly under the Ministry of Finance. Those outfits include Parliament; our own budget goes directly to the President; the budget of the Judiciary goes directly to
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 5:05 p.m.
the President. Are we to take this information as if it will affect us?
Mr Speaker, there ought to have been an earlier engagement between Parliament and the Presidency, so that we know the way forward. As I stand here, I do not know what implications it will have on Parliament, the Judiciary and the Auditor- General. We need to know this.
Mr Speaker, undoubtedly, what has been done today and for this information that has been given to us, certainly, it will affect projections contained in the budget. The Hon Minister projects to us that for 2015, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate will be about 3.9 per cent. The non-oil sector will grow to about 2.7 per cent.
Mr Speaker, what will be the implications on the growth rate? I have been told that it has been agreed that the economy now will grow at 3.5 per cent. If that is the case, the Hon Minister should have told us that, that is the direction this country is heading to.
We need that because, Mr Speaker, we need to plan and strategise as the year rolls on. For investors, it is critical that they know what calculations and projections have been made for the growth of the economy. Yet, the Hon Minister does not tell us anything about that.
Mr Speaker, agriculture in the budget approved, has a total allocation of about 1.4 per cent out of which ABFA to agriculture is GH¢144 million. The Hon Minister tells us that a total reduction -- [Interruptions] he tells us the key measures include an across the board reduction in expenditure savings on goods and services and capital by GH¢344 million, and GH¢868.4 million respectively as well as a drawdown on Ghana Stabilisation Fund.
Mr Speaker, the two add up to GH¢1.2 billion. Ministry of Food and Agriculture -- critical to our survival -- Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA); GH¢144 million, Ministry of Education - critical - ABFA - GH¢ 234 million.

Mr Speaker, I know the Hon Minister for Food and Agriculture is very happy with what I have just said in respect of allocations to his Ministry. As I said, it has implications on missed revenues and subsidies.

Mr Speaker, only last week, the Hon Minister responsible for Finance was here and he told us about subsidies in the petroleum sector. As the Hon Member for New Juabeng South indicated, there are two sides to this. Since you have told us that there are subsidies on petroleum products -- You should have told us about losses in revenue in respect to the liftings on the crude, how much are we going to gain from the subsidies? That side should have been given to us.

This is because, Mr Speaker, on daily basis, in this country, we use 80,000 barrels of oil. How much does it translate to? Every week, it is over half a million barrels; and every month, it is about two million barrels. How much are we making by way of gains in subsidies because the prices have come down? The Hon Minister is silent on that. That is why it is important.

Mr Speaker, how has the depreciation of the cedi been factored into this Statement that he has given us? We are not clear. We are very much in darkness and so, I think this Statement is very much incomplete. Petroleum, water and

electricity subsidies -- How much is the Hon Minister talking about?

Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister makes a categorical statement about what amounts to draw from the Ghana Stabilisation Fund. He has told us that he is going to draw about GH¢487.2 million from the Ghana Stabilisation Fund. How he is able to pre-programme this, Mr Speaker, I cannot understand.

Why? This is because the Petroleum Revenue Management Act provides in clause 12 -- Withdrawals from the Ghana Stabilisation Fund. While petroleum revenue collected in any quarter falls below one quarter of the Annual Budget Funding Amount for that financial year, withdrawals may be made from the Ghana Stabilisation Fund.

How is he able to project that, in fact, for the three quarters ahead of us, we are going to be in default by this much and thus far, be able to project and say to us that they are going to have to withdraw how much? GH¢487.2 million? How did he arrive at that? This is because, Mr Speaker, that one is episodic and it is tied to a period.

Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister is laughing and chuckling, but it is a serious matter. So, there are various issues that the Hon Minister must take on board and respond to, moving forward. But I believe that he must appear before us properly, because what he has told us is a Statement that is very pregnant.

Mr Speaker, we need to deliver this pregnant Statement. So, he must come properly before us and let us know what programmes to introduce. Parliament would have to give approvals -- A new approval to the ceiling that he brings. It

cannot be said that after Parliament has made some approvals, one goes to sit in a corner and say that he would want to do this. The Hon Minister cannot do that because this is not discretionary.

Mr Speaker, on that note and with these few words, I would want to end my contribution.
Mr Speaker 5:15 p.m.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, do you want to say something?
Mr Agbesi 5:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, in view of the issues raised by the Hon Minority Leader, I would want to yield to the Hon Minister for Finance to wind up.
Mr Speaker 5:15 p.m.
Hon Minister for Finance?
However, I would want you to, in your response -- I am not interfering but these are matters of constitutional nature, which have been raised on the floor of the House. They are constitutional and legal in nature. What is the status of the estimates of the Judiciary, the Audit Service and the Parliament of Ghana? I will want you to address them, so that the right signals are sent.
Yes, Hon Minister?
Mr Terkper 5:15 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I wish to thank Hon Members for their comments on the Statement which I presented.
Mr Speaker, I wish to remind Hon Members that what I sought to do today, as I indicated, was a prudent measure. The importance of prudence is that when events are likely to occur or are occurring, then you must take precautionary fiscal steps.
Mr Terkper 5:15 p.m.

Mr Speaker, we are not substituting the International Monetary Fund (IMF) indication with the benchmark revenue. Mr Speaker, what we are doing is to say that, we have a law that does not allow for flexibility. But that is not the reason for also maintaining the level of the estimates in the budget.

Therefore, we are saying that we are looking at the forecast and taking remedial measures.

Again, this is a prudent thing to do. We are not saying that we are substituting -- I was very careful -- The IMF forecast with the benchmark revenue.
Dr A. A. Osei 5:25 p.m.
On a point of order.
Mr Speaker, as the Hon Minister knows, benchmark revenue involves output and price. My point was that, whether we like it, our Act is specific about how we compute prices. It is specific. So, if he uses the Act to compute prices and it does give a certain number, he does not have a choice but to use it. I understand the prudence --
Mr Speaker 5:25 p.m.
Can he not go back again to work at it in the face of the developments?
Dr A. A. Osei 5:25 p.m.
In the face of it, we could amend the Act, but he must not break the law. The law is the law. So, if he says that he is using the --
Mr Speaker 5:25 p.m.
He is saying that he is not using it but he is just making --
Dr A. A. Osei 5:25 p.m.
He is using the IMF price forecast --
Mr Speaker 5:25 p.m.
For his assumptions?
Dr A. A. Osei 5:25 p.m.
Yes. But is it consistent with our law? If it is not, then he should come and amend the law. That is all I am saying. Once he says he is using it, unless he can prove to me that it is consistent with what the law says, I do not have a difficulty. But he should not say it ahead of time; saying that the forecast is consistent with the IMF price, I am alright.
Mr Terkper 5:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, given the provisions in the law, if I were to go back to the Act, I will still arrive at US$99 and I am saying that it will be suicidal for the nation to persist in using US$99 when we know very well that we are not going to achieve this --
Mr Speaker 5:25 p.m.
Hon Minister, you are all saying the same thing and I know that the law is going to be amended.
Mr Terkper 5:25 p.m.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
So, that point is well noted and as you have stated, we would --
Mr Speaker 5:25 p.m.
I am not anticipating; -- [Pause.] I was informed this morning in my Lobby that he wants to bring the law to amend it. In fact, if I should go further and give further and better particulars. Since the Hon Minority Leader likes “further and better particulars”, he would want to lay the Bill tomorrow.
That is the information the Hon Minister for Finance gave me. I do not know whether the Bill has reached the Table Office but that was what he told me this morning at the Lobby.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 5:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, my worry is how it was captured. I have nothing against this information that you have and even communicating it to us unofficially. But you said you were aware that the law was going to be amended --
Mr Speaker 5:25 p.m.
A Bill would be brought to amend the law if that satisfies you -- [Laughter.]
Mr Terkper 5:25 p.m.
Mr Speaker, if my memory serves me right, I thought I had consulted with the Hon Minority Leader on the issue of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) given his stiffness in the provisions of that Act.
Mr Speaker, if I may continue, I wish to address one issue. The Bonds that we have issued have not increased our public debt by the full amount of the Bond. I think that mistake was made, again, by an Hon Member. I did indicate even today that about half of the Bond that we anticipate is going to refinance the 2007 Bond or what is also called the 2017 Bond.
That would be substituting and therefore, not increasing the public debt. It would keep the public debt at the same level. Therefore, I think there is a lot of misinformation going to the public that our Bonds keep increasing the public debt.
Indeed, Mr Speaker, the portion of the Bond that we also use to refinance domestic Bonds, in order to extend the tenure and reduce interest rates, also does not increase the public debt. But I have often said that, it is always better as a nation for us to issue ten-year Bonds to finance our capital budget than to rely on 90-day Treasury Bills as we have been doing in the past, to the extent that we will borrow to finance the deficit.
I think this is a very important point and I hear this being said all the time and I would expect that we do not confuse the
Mr Speaker 5:35 p.m.
Why will you not address the Judiciary, Audit Service and Parliament of Ghana?
Mr Terkper 5:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I did address them, I believe you were engaged.
What I said was that, we are mindful of the constitutional requirements. I also addressed the issue of the Statutory Funds and I said that we are just in the first quarter and that we would be monitoring --
Mr Speaker 5:35 p.m.
Statutory Fund is in a different category. The case of the Judiciary, which is a constitutional provision, then the Audit Service and the
Parliament of Ghana, which are in their various laws; the Audit Service Act and the Parliamentary Service Act are legal requirements and that is why the process as has been pointed out, has to be routed through the President.
That is why they want to get a certain assurance whether when MDAs are mentioned, it includes those organisations because there is a constitutional and legal issue at stake. That is the point that they are making.
Mr Terkper 5:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, the point is well noted but in giving the --
Mr Speaker 5:35 p.m.
How is it noted?
Mr Terkper 5:35 p.m.
In giving the ceilings, we are also mindful of the constitutional requirements but when it becomes difficult for us --
Mr Speaker 5:35 p.m.
What they are suggesting is that, under the law, you cannot touch it. That is the point they are making. That is the point that is being made on the floor unless you go and amend those laws in the Constitution. That is the point that is being made and I think that you should take it on board.
Mr Terkper 5:35 p.m.
Mr Speaker, the point is well noted.
Mr Speaker, on this note, may I take the opportunity once again, to thank your goodself and Hon Members of the House for listening to the Statement and making very useful contributions to the
Statement. It is my view again as an Accountant, that this is a practice which is very encouraging, and we have often done it at the Ministry of Communications or Ministry of Information. But as an august House, where information is also very useful, I would, as you directed, think that it would be useful if we even came to give periodical updates on the economy to the House.
In your consideration, Mr Speaker, as to what you indicated, how to facilitate various Statements that are made to the House, I am mindful of the concern of Hon Members of the House, that even Committees of the House should be given adequate information in the performance of their work.
I thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker 5:35 p.m.
Hon Members, that brings us to the end of the Statement and the comments thereon.
Hon Members, I thank you very much for your endurance. It is past 2.00'clock. Unless the Leaders have any comment, I will adjourn the House.
Accordingly, the House is adjourned till tomorrow at 10.00'clock in the forenoon.
Hon Members, thank you very much.

  • The House was adjourned at 5.47 p.m. till Friday, 13th March, 2015 at 10.00 a.m.