Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make some comments on the Statement ably made by the Hon First Deputy Speaker, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu on the Inter Departmental Research and Information Group and the adoption of evidence-based research and information in Parliament.
Mr Speaker, I commend him for doing this on your behalf and on behalf of the workers of IDRIG..
Mr Speaker, I would want to assure them that you, as Chairman of the Parliamentary Service Board, you have given every strong indication for a more resourced Information and Communication Depart- ment, and more importantly, an Official Report Department that delivers timely, accurate report of the proceedings of Parliament. Therefore, Hon Colleagues should be assured.
Mr Speaker, twenty-five years of parliamentary democracy -- the role of research and information. To quote the Rt Hon Speaker again, a few years ago, the Hansard was an authoritative reference. But today, Hon Members of Parliament do not do proper and adequate research.
Mr Speaker, for instance, if this House was to discuss the level of poverty globally and limit it to poverty in Ghana, and appreciate its dynamics in terms of rural -- urban, that is, the Greater Accra Region versus Central Region; Northern Region versus Upper East Region, we would be speaking “they are poor here and poorer there” without any statistics just because we do not do much research. How many of us walk to this Parliament with the UNDP Report or UN Report on poverty status?
Mr Speaker, I would just give one example. I commissioned a team to do research on Senior High Schools a few days ago.
I would want to understand, between 1998 and yesterday, how many Ghanaian students graduated from Junior High School and transited to Senior High School and further went to the tertiary level? That would inform policy input and policy debate on the matter, relative to expenditure.
Mr Speaker, if we were discussing agriculture on the Floor of Parliament, how many of us can share statistics? How about decline in public investment in the agricultural sector in the last decade or two? We would just rise and share what comes into our minds. That is not good enough.
As Hon Members of Parliament, we would need to re-equip ourselves, that research outcomes and research results --
Mr Speaker, when you ask Hon Members to lay Papers here, MPs must note that they are laying them here for purposes of credibility, that it could be authoritative and that we could discern from what we lay.
Mr Speaker, we live in an information age. Fortunately, Ghana has not lagged behind. I know that we even laid fibre optics to Parliament, yet it is not being used adequately.
We would need to improve broadband connectivity to the Chamber Block and all the precincts of Parliament, so that before we enter Parliament -- When the young people from school come here, they could log on to the Parliament's Wi-Fi and see, for instance, 7thParliament@Ghana. We do not have it.
Even the Information Technology (IT) system for Leadership is usually on and off. That process of dumsor must end, we must have a reliable IT infrastructure. Again, Mr Speaker, you have ever been a Minister for Communications. In Ghana, we rely on one source; if that source has a problem, that ends it.
We all would then say, the internet is down. It is not so and should not be so. When the internet is down, we should be
able to have a reliable infrastructure to back it up for consistency and seamless transfer of information.
Mr Speaker, I would want to commend the Hon First Deputy Speaker who made the Statement and appreciate that these Departments has served all of us well.
But, Mr Speaker, I have one advice for them. Sometimes, one uses a word like, “inadvertently” and then along the line, one uses, “inadvertent” but then we could find a spelling mistake in “inadvertent”.
It should not be so -- [Interruption] -- I am just using “inadvertent” as my basis. There has been times that the Hansard Department -- [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, kudos to the Hansard Department, but they need to improve. When they sit and watch us speak and sometimes, when they come back and ask us for the correct rendition of a certain word, it is not an encouragement to us.
Then again, many of my Hon Colleagues do not read the Official Report. We should change; even if we would not read the whole Official Report, we should read “our column” and improve upon it. We all have these Official Reports.
Finally, Mr Speaker, I know we would bring it to you. We have to digitise the archival records of Parliament.
We must have a way of digitising it, so that we keep records of very important, commemorative and historical Statements that were made from the First Parliament to date.