Mr Speaker, we would be guided. I understand that we have the Minister for Defence, the Minister for the Interior, the Minister for Energy and the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection in the House. So that brings it to five. As we move on, we would know the state of the House and what Business we would be able to consider further. We would ask the First Deputy Majority Whip to encourage his Members to be seated to do the work.
But Mr Speaker, I associate myself with the approval of the budget for the Ministry of Trade and Industry for the sum of GH¢269,135,747.00 for the year ending, 31st December, 2017. In doing so, I note that is not usual of the Hon Minister, in moving the Motion, he limited himself to the Motion and the amount. Knowing that
he is a political stalwart, and this is the House of Parliament, we would want to hear him on some of the policy objectives that he intends to do. We know that he plays a pivotal role and would do so in moving the agenda of Government forward.
Mr Speaker, I have just two brief comments. One is on the Komenda Sugar Factory. I am aware that the Indian Government provided US$24.5 million for the out grower and the irrigation development of it. It would be important to get on, so that the Komenda Sugar Factory would work more efficiently.
Mr Speaker, I would draw his attention to the Mauritius transaction of the Dapele, Savelugu and Daboya Sugar factories, which can employ ten thousand persons.
Mr Speaker, The experts in sugar, globally tell us that, what sugar production needs are three ingredients; land, sunshine and water. As a country, we have all. So, part of Government's commitment to reduce the Food Import Bill must be led by the Minister for Trade and Industry in order to do that.
Mr Speaker, I would also support that he liaises with the President, for them to properly constitute the International Trade Commission in order that we fight anti-dumping, particularly for the cement manufacturers in Ghana.
They have raised eyebrows about us depending more on imported cement to the detriment of locally produced cement, and we need to make them competitive. I know the Hon Minister would pay attention.
Mr Speaker, the other issue is having rectified the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), there is some diplomatic action the Hon Minister needs
to take. Nigeria is still reluctant. Ivory Coast has similar products like Ghana. If we are not careful, they would take the market away from Ghana with what they have concluded as the EPA.
I know the Hon Minister has a very strong international presence, we should begin to monitor what the impact of British Exit (BREXIT) would be on our trade regime and investment regime, particularly with the United Kingdom.
Then also, with trade facilitation, I know the Ghana Community Network Limited would work to improve it.
Mr Speaker, finally on Ghana Export/ Import bank (EXIM). Regrettably, the Minister for Finance is not here. That has always been my position, and it remains my position. I believe honestly that the Hon Minster for Finance must allow the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry to exercise oversight over the Ghana EXIM Bank.
That is what we can use to stimulate support for SMEs and the competi- tiveness of the private sector. I recalled that , when the Bill came here, I advocated strongly that the Chairman of the Ghana EXIM Bank ought to have been the Minister for Trade and Industry for good reasons.
Mr Speaker, everywhere in the world, the Minister responsible for the economy is the Minister for Trade and Industry. Finance is tax revenue. You bring in revenue, expenditure and fiscal discipline, but the Minister who can change the structure of the economy is the Minister for Trade and Industry.
I am also disappointed and surprised that President Akufo-Addo, even for “One District One Factory” intends to appoint the coordinator to be at the Office of the
President, when he has a Ministry dedicated to the private sector which can do that.
So Mr Speaker, we support this, but this new call centre the President is creating is needless. It is not necessary to go and create another coordinator for “One District/One factory.”
There is the Small Scale District Industrialisation Initiative (SSDII) we initiated with the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), which is under the Minister for Trade and Industry.
Mr Speaker, finally, irrigation development. I know with the Export Development and Investment Fund (EDAIF), and particularly with EXIM, we supported the development of Tamni, Amartey, Mpruem then Kamba in the Upper West Region, so that for large scale irrigation to support export, particularly horticultural crops in those areas, the Minister would take interest in it.
Mr Speaker, my view is that, it would be economically more productive than “One Village/One Dam”, if we invest in this infrastructure.
Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the approval of the estimates for the Ministry of Trade and Industry. You have very capable men at the Ministry who would support you to succeed.
Mr Speaker, also Free Zones -- with the Ministry of Finance. A lot of leakages go into it, and if you discipline it and go beyond Greater Accra Region, -- could we have a Free Zone entity in the Upper West, Upper East or the Northern Region?
We must begin identifying dedicated space that can be used for that.
Mr Speaker, with this, I support the Motion.