Debates of 31 Jan 2019

PRAYERS 10:36 a.m.

Mr Speaker 10:36 a.m.
Hon Members, I would have to reiterate that it was the decision of both Sides of the House, that any business whatsoever should be subject to plenary and that we would come here, do the business and thereafter do any other business.
That means I must insist that this is done. I must administer it. So I am respectfully pleading that we do not discuss that matter anymore. This is because we have come to a consensus upon that. It helps the smooth running of affairs.
Thank you very much.

Mr Speaker 10:36 a.m.
Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 30th January, 2019.
Mr Speaker 10:36 a.m.
Hon Member, any difficulty?
Mr Ras Mubarak 10:36 a.m.
Yes, Mr Speaker, I am afraid that the Official Report --
Mr Speaker 10:36 a.m.
I said Votes and Proceedings.
  • [No correction was made to the Official Report of Monday, 3rd December, 2018.]
  • Mr Speaker 10:36 a.m.
    Hon Members, Statement by Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa on celebrating some illustrious sons and daughters of our land on their respective appointments into high international offices.
    Hon Ablakwa?
    STATEMENTS 10:46 a.m.

    Mr Samuel O. Ablakwa (NDC -- North Tongu) 10:46 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, may I express my debt of gratitude to you, for the opportunity to make this Statement in honour of and in the celebration of the appointments of Ms Hannah Serwaah Tetteh, Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah- Oppong, Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, Mr Kwabena Osei-Danquah, Madam Anita Kokui Gbeho, Dr Alfred Mahamadu Braimah, Major General Francis Vib- Sanziri, Madam Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame, Ambassador Thomas Kwasi Quartey and Mr Emmanuel Bombande into their respective international high offices.
    Mr Speaker, without equivocation, the feat achieved by these illustrious Ghanaians lifts high the flag and image of Ghana. They help preserve the great
    tradition Ghana has become associated with as a nation, whose human capital can be relied upon by the international community in carrying out onerous assignments with distinction.
    This testimony remains fresh in our memories following the outpouring of profound tributes from all over the world to attest to this fact when the former UN Secretary General, Busumuru Kofi Annan was called to glory last year.
    Mr Speaker, the year 2018 has been touted as the year of the woman - from the remarkable courage and gains of the Me Too Movement, the refreshingly progressive gender balanced cabinets which are on the rise with Ethiopia and Rwanda showing the way in Africa, to the historic results of the 2018 US Mid Term elections.
    I shall therefore in this spirit hope that 2019 would follow this trajectory and we thus begin by celebrating our great women achievers.
    Mr Speaker, as has been widely reported on 10th December,2018, UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres swore-in Ghana's former Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hon Hannah Serwaah Tetteh, as the UN Secretary General's Special Representative to the African Union (AU) and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union
    This elevation came after her earlier appointment as the Director-General of the UN Office in Nairobi, Kenya on July 13th,
    Mr Speaker, we do recall that Hon Hanna S. Tetteh served as a Member of this august House for the Awutu Senya
    Constituency from 2001 to 2005 and for the Awutu Senya West Constituency from 2013 to 2017 respectively. She also held the position of Minister for Trade and Industry from February 2009 to January
    Mr Speaker, Ghana's learned former Attorney-General who served under the Mahama Administration from 2013 to 2017, Hon Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, has also been appointed a member of the International Court of Arbitration (ICA).
    Her appointment took effect from 1st July, 2018. She has since been discharging her duties for the prestigious global arbitral institution with offices in Paris, Hong Kong, New York, Sao Paolo and Singapore.
    Mr Speaker, on 12 June 2018, Madam Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame, who is visually impaired, was elected to the committee that oversees the UN's Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
    The Committee of 18 members went from having one woman to six women in the June elections where Madam Fefoame was elected with Rosemary Kayess of Australia; Miyoon Kim of South Korea; Risnawati Utami of Indonesia; Mara Gabrilli of Brazil; and Amalia Gamio of Mexico.
    She is a board member of the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations, and Sightsavers' Global Advocacy Adviser for Social Inclusion and has worked closely with the UN to champion the rights of persons with disabilities.
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    Mr Samuel O. Ablakwa (NDC -- North Tongu) 10:56 a.m.
    has served as Resident Coordinator/ Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme in Namibia, where she supported the Government of Namibia to coordinate its external development assistance through the United Nations Partnership and Namibian Development Frameworks.
    Mr Speaker, kindly permit me to now focus attention on their male counterparts. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Council of Ministers has appointed Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku as ECOWAS Commissioner for Macro- economic Policy and Economic Research following his nomination by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. He is expected to serve in that capacity for the next four years
    Prof Robert Dussey, Chairman of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers in a statement specified that Dr Apraku's responsibilities shall include “Multilateral surveillance mechanism which involves regular assessment through joint surveillance mission of the economies of ECOWAS Member states to ascertain whether the convergence criteria are being met”.
    Dr Apraku is a former Minister for Regional Co-Operation and New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and also Minister for Trade and Industry. He also served as a Member of Parliament for Offinso North Constituency for three consecutive terms (1997 - 2009).
    It is also worth noting that Dr Alfred Mahamadu Braimah, another Ghanaian, was appointed Auditor-General of ECOWAS Institutions. Dr Braimah before this appointment was the ECOWAS Director of Finance.
    Mr Speaker, another distinguished Ghanaian, Mr Kwabena Osei-Danquah who before his appointment had served in various capacities as a diplomat for Ghana and a senior official of the United Nations for over a course of 33 years, has been appointed as the Chef de Cabinet to the President of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly.
    He was the Director of the Division for Governance and Multilateral Affairs (DGACM) of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) from the beginning of April 2015 until this appointment. He joined UNFPA in 2002, after working as a diplomat for Ghana for over 17 years within which he had the honour to serve for four years at Ghana's Embassy in Prague to the then Czechoslovakia and subsequently to the Czech Republic, accredited to the Slovak Republic, Hungary and Poland.
    He previously served as Vice-President of the Bureau of the International Conference on Financing for Development and the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UNFPA and in many other capacities as a diplomat.
    Mr Speaker, in the same vein, in 2017, some other notable citizens of our dear country made Ghana proud by receiving appointments to various international offices.
    It is worth mentioning that on 13 October 2017, United Nations Secretary- General Antonio Guterres announced the appointment of Major General Francis Vib- Sanziri as the Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).
    Major General Vib-Sanziri succeeded Major General Jai Shanker Menon of India, who completed his assignment on 30th September, 2017.
    He served, before this appointment, as Director-General of the International Peace Support Operations at the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces of Ghana since April 2017, as Assistant Director, Ghana Army Operations (1996- 1998), Deputy Head of the Ghana Military Academy (2002-2004), Commanding Officer of an Infantry Battalion (2004- 2009), Director for International Peacekeeping Support Operations in 2009 and Army Secretary at the Army Headquarters (2010-2011).
    He also served as Director-General for Joint Operations, General Headquarters in 2014 and as Director-General of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) from 2015 to 2017.
    Similarly, on July 24, 2017, a former Deputy Foreign Minister of Ghana, Mr Emmanuel Bombande, was appointed by the United Nations as its Senior Mediation Advisor in the Central African Republic (CAR). He assumed duties on August 1st,
    Mr Bombande, a peace-building and conflict resolution expert, previously had been the Special Assistant/Adviser to the UN Secretary General's Special Representative to West Africa and was Head of the UN Office for West Africa that has the mandate, inter alia, to enhance the contributions of the UN towards the achievement of peace and security in West Africa.
    He is a co-founder of the West African Network for Peace-Building (WANEP); an organisation specialised in conflict resolution, mediation and peace-building in the West African sub-region.
    Mr Speaker, to complete this Hall of Fame for today is Ambassador Thomas Kwasi Quartey, who on 30th January 2017 was elected as the Deputy Chairman of the African Union (AU) at the opening of the 28th Ordinary session of the African Union (AU) in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
    He joined the foreign service of Ghana in 1977, and rose through the ranks to become the ambassador to Cuba, Belgium, UN, AU and Ethiopia. He held several diplomatic appointments, including Director of Passports from 2004 to 2006, and Deputy High Commissioner to the
    Ambassador Quartey, before his current appointment served as the Secretary for former President John Mahama.
    Mr Speaker, as Benjamin Disraeli puts it rather succinctly; “the legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example”.

    These women and men of our nation will definitely be in our memories and that of many generations for their outstanding accomplishments and the impact their various callings will have on the image of our country.

    Mr Speaker, may I commend all successive Governments for entrenching the practice of providing “No Objection” while often committing envoys and staff of the Foreign Service to campaign vigorously for Ghanaians who come up for consideration to international positions irrespective of their perceived political affiliation.

    This beautiful convention which puts Ghana first must be lauded by this House and indeed all our Presidents deserve high
    Mr Speaker 10:56 a.m.
    Hon Member, thank you very much for this well researched Statement.
    Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh (NPP -- Nsawam Adoagyiri) 10:56 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you for your kindness. I would begin by congratulating my respected Hon Ranking Member, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, for such a timely and well-researched Statement.
    Mr Speaker, fact be told, the list is actually endless and we could go on and on. I recall at Independence the sudden show of interest by the comity of nations in a small country which was in the sub- Sahara called Ghana.
    From 1957 up to now, we have had our challenges, yet we have been able to position and posit ourselves as an admirable country showing promise in sub-Saharan Africa.
    Mr Speaker, these feats are worthy of celebration and I dare say that we could do more in the face of the potentials that we wield as a country.
    Mr Speaker, suffice to say that we have also lost some significant positions across the globe. Since Independence, there have been key international positions that a Ghanaian has always occupied.
    Mr Speaker, your Committee on Foreign Affairs toured our foreign missions across the world and one thing that came out clearly during our interactions was that the name Ghana had always resonated positivity with good reactions from our peers, so the brand is huge.
    It is unfortunate that those of us living in the country often underrate the brand Ghana. I was not surprise that after the 2016 elections, almost all key international players were coming to Ghana. It was not just because of His Excellency the President but it was coupled with these international process as well as the Ghana brand.
    Unfortunately, as a country, we have not celebrated our brand enough and so the Hon Ranking Member has called on us to celebrate these key personalities. Mr Speaker, but I would want to take it from a broader perspective, that we must look at the brand Ghana and celebrate it.
    Mr Speaker, our peace-keeping troops who have been loyal to this country, the United Nations and to other destinations where they have assisted to keep the peace have not been celebrated enough. So going forward, these would be critical and become key areas that we would need to look at.
    Mr Speaker, the question that begs to be asked is what is the sustainability of these attempts at winning international positions and doing this country proud?
    We have Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD) at the University of Ghana, which among other things is cut out to play the functionality of ensuring that we groom and build the capacity of young diplomats in our country.
    I am aware of some good and conscious effort by the Government to support LECIAD to be able to deliver on such key deliverables.
    I would pray that moving forward, the Executive would give all the needed support to LECIAD, so that indeed, while we celebrate these feats, we would think about the future and how we could groom young diplomats in our country to take over from where it has been left off.
    Mr Speaker, not to zero in on any of these personalities but Mrs Brew Appiah- Oppong is a person I would want to talk about for her role in the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) case which was one of the potentially huge conflicts that plagued Ghana and La Cote d'Ivoire.
    Mr Speaker, she began the process and blazed the trail together with her abled and reliable legal team and true to the words of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the fact that governance is a continued process, she followed suit until we were able to win this case at the International Court of Justice.
    Mr Speaker, it is admirable and I would want to urge them to do our country proud
    and always see themselves as the ambassadors of the Ghana brand and anything that they would do should be done with the singular motive of it inuring to the benefit of Ghana.
    Mr Speaker, I thank you for your kindness and once again, congratulate the Hon Ranking Member for such a wonderful Statement.
    Mr Speaker 10:56 a.m.
    Hon Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, thank you very much.
    Dr Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings (NDC -- Klottey Korle) 10:56 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would like to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement and my Hon Colleague who also contributed.
    Mr Speaker, one thing that we could say thankfully is that Ghana's foreign policy has transcended partisanship and has been very consistent and we would definitely hope that we would continue this way.
    Mr Speaker, I would like to congratulate all these proud sons and daughters of Ghana who continue to make us proud on the international stage and to hope that more of our youth would certainly look to them as role models, emulate them and aspire to be like them and even go beyond what they have achieved.
    Mr Speaker, too many times in our current dispensation, we find that too many young people are aspiring toward the get-rich-quick-schemes and looking up to people who should otherwise not be seen as role models.
    Mr Speaker, it is very refreshing to note that we have so many men and women of substance who we could call upon as role
    Dr Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings (NDC -- Klottey Korle) 11:06 a.m.
    models and who are role models not just in Ghana but internationally as well.
    Mr Speaker, as we celebrate these men and women of the land, we must also do a little introspection. As a nation, are we living up to the ideals of the United Nations and the African Union Charter? Or are we simply signatories to most of the treaties but not allowing the real and tangible domestication of all these things that we believe in?

    Mr Speaker, being active members in the UN specifically when it comes to peace-keeping as well as the AU and ECOWAS, we, as individuals and as a collective must understand that these ideals that make up bodies like the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are not just abstract concepts. These are things that we can live up to and live by.

    Today, as we celebrate these amazing men and women, we must also see how we can also emulate these attributes that have gotten them to the levels they have reached in our daily lives, so that we speak together as Ghanaians who are living up to our ideals, and not only a few named people can aspire to these heights.

    I continue to wish them well and we hope that more of our young men and women would aspire to reach such heights and represent this country proudly on the international stage.

    Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity.
    Mr Speaker 11:06 a.m.
    Thank you very much, Hon Member.
    Hon Ayariga?
    Mr Mahama Ayariga (NDC -- Bawku Central) 11:06 a.m.
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to add my voice to congratulate our citizens for such international recognitions granted them and by extension to our country.
    Let me first and foremost thank the Hon Member who made the Statement for such a well-researched Statement.
    Mr Speaker, as this House's representative to the Parliament of ECOWAS, I have had the opportunity to witness how some of those mentioned and appointed in the ECOWAS Commission got there. I must indicate that in all the instances, the Government of Ghana and the Foreign Missions were actively involved in the lobby to get many of them there.
    Mr Speaker, one of the names that has been left out, which I believe deserves mention, is that of the Secretary-General of the ECOWAS Parliament. He also got elevated to the Secretary-General position last year, and I believe at a certain time, he used to be a staff of this Parliament.
    He is Mr John Azuma, and got there through a very spirited lobby led by the leader of the delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament, ably supported by the Government of Ghana.
    Mr Speaker, let me also highlight that we, as a country, tend to be highly underrepresented in many of the international organisations. One major reason is the fact that many of us are not bilingual, and many of these international organisations tend to want to attract people who can speak other languages.
    We suffer the unfortunate situation where we are bordered by three francophone countries, yet many of us are unable to communicate fluently in French. It tends to be a major handicap when they are recruiting people into these international organisations.
    That is why I would want to support the call of the Hon Member who made the Statement that our educational institutions and the younger ones who still have the opportunity to not dodge their French lessons and not hate their French teachers should take every opportunity afforded them to learn French as another language.
    This is because in the international arena, getting jobs in these institutions would very often require that one should be multilingual, if not bilingual.
    On that score, Mr Speaker, I would want to support the statement made and urge our schools and students to take the study of the French language seriously.
    Mr Speaker, I also think there are many Ghanaians in a lot of international organisations who know the opportunities that exist there and the link between them and us. Very often, when you meet them at international conferences, they complain.
    So if the Foreign missions could maintain very close ties with many of these people, they would provide data of available opportunities, so that as a country, we can put together a strong lobby to be able get many Ghanaians in these organisations so that we could be adequately represented in many of the international organisations.
    Mr Speaker, with these few words, I would want to thank the Hon Member who made the Statement for a well-researched and apt Statement.
    Mr Speaker 11:06 a.m.
    Thank you very much, Hon Ayariga. It was well said.
    Hon Minority Leader?
    Minority Leader (Mr Haruna Iddrisu) 11:06 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, let me thank you for the opportunity and in doing so, make some comments on the Statement ably made by the Hon Samuel O. Ablakwa.
    Mr Speaker, let me begin with a poignant paragraph on the very last page of his presentation, which reads:
    “Mr Speaker, as Benjamin puts it rather succinctly, the legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.”
    I trust that in making this Statement, we should convey to the very distinguished and respected Ghanaian ambassadors, so to call them, that we are proud of their contribution to the global foreign policy pursued.
    Mr Speaker, we should also note with satisfaction that in many of these appointments, I believe President Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo-Addo would have given what is known in foreign parlance as ‘‘no objection'' to the appointments.
    This means that we are elevating foreign policy above partisan consideration. That is how it should be. The pursuit of foreign policy must be consistent, and it should be one which goes beyond just seeking our national good but deepening our ties with other countries.
    Minority Leader (Mr Haruna Iddrisu) 11:16 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, let me pick just a few of
    them. One in particular is Dr Konadu Apraku, a former Hon Member of this House. Who is noted for his finance and economics.
    Mr Speaker, again, what is it that Ghana is doing to achieve the convergence criteria and to get the second monetary zone established under the West African Monetary Institutes (WAMI)? We have seen promises, and it has taken us another decade. We are not there yet.
    Many a time, we are not able to meet matters relating to fiscal discipline. That is why it is welcoming news when Government passed the Fiscal Responsibility Act, in addition to the Public Financial Management Act. All those are fiscal instruments to allow for the discipline of Government expenditure.
    When we say expenditure should not exceed a certain threshold of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), we should be faithful to it. We need to keep inflation at a certain level. That is part of his role. Out of the five, Ghana struggles always by meeting about three or two of that criteria, which depends largely on the performance of the economy.
    Mr Speaker, with the former Attorney- General and Minister for Justice, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, who is now going to the International Court of Arbitration (ICA), we hope that she is taking over from Justice Nii Amegashie who is now at the Supreme Court as we were told during his vetting. He had represented Ghana, having been President of the Ghana Bar Association and played other roles.
    We wish Marietta well and believe that she would bring her knowledge of the law, particularly international law, into
    deepening understanding as to what the International Court of Arbitration should be doing.
    Mr Speaker, when Ghana signs many of these contractual obligations, there is always a clause; dispute settlement - how arbitration should be settled, whether in favour of Ghanaian law or the respected Paris or London courts.
    There are those of them including Madam Anita Kokui Gbeho appointed as the Deputy Joint Special Representative for the AU at the UN — What are the values that we need to attain as a member- country and lead country in the AU? The European Union (EU) remains a symbol of continental unification.
    African Heads of States just go, come and say they are committed to African Unity. We are not seeing much in terms of African unity. Free movement of goods and people are still suffering within Africa.

    Intra-African trade is still suffering, the numbers are not encouraging and our heads of States should be seen to do more in that respect.

    Mr Speaker, let me conclude with recognition and commendation to Hon Hannah Serwaa Tetteh who served as Member of Parliament for this House, and who served as Minister for Trade and Industry.

    I took office from her, and I believe that she would also play her part in getting the UN to relate well with the African Union so that they would continue to deal with matters of global peace, conflict resolution and strengthen matters relating to trade.

    When the President says Ghana Beyond Aid, we expect that we would reduce our dependency on aid and on debt, so that trade becomes a vehicle that would promote the economic development of our country.

    As Hon Mahama Ayariga observed, many Ghanaians could have been qualified in many of these offices abroad if they had a second language. The second language could be preferably French, Chinese, Russian, et cetera. We need to think far and deep.

    Many of our foreign policy institutions like Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD) of the University of Ghana must begin to introduce foreign languages, anticipating the strategic importance of particular languages to the pursuit of foreign policy in future.

    Mr Speaker, again, as I have indicated, the Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs on many of these issues would have done her part to make sure that Ghanaians get to those very distinguished positions.

    So as we celebrate them and share our pride, let the young be inspired by their contribution. They could not have done so without serving with integrity.

    Thank you Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker 11:16 a.m.
    Majority Leadership?
    Mr Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh (NPP-- Sunyani East) 11:16 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Statement ably made by Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa, and to join him in commending these international diplomats that he has listed in his Statement.
    Mr Speaker, international diplomacy is a special field which requires a special training, and I believe that all the Ghanaians who are working for us and for the international community in their various capacities have received some training or mentoring over the years, and that is why they continue to shine at that level.
    Of course, the average Ghanaian continues to make the country proud wherever they find themselves. It is my belief that these sons and daughters of the country would also put the name of Ghana very high on the international scene.
    Mr Speaker, within the UN, AU and ECOWAS systems, we find so many Ghanaians who are working for the international community and who continue to make us proud. Unfortunately, some of them never catch our eyes because as I may put it, they are the unsung heroes.
    They are not the ones who are the arrowheads of the various institutions, but if you visit the ECOWAS Parliament, the ECOWAS Commission, AU and UN, there are so many Ghanaian international public servants who are working for the international community and who continue to put the name of Ghana high on the agenda of these international unions.
    We would continue to urge them to distinguish themselves and to make Ghana known in the proper sense of the word.
    I believe that they merit the positions, and once they have been appointed, they would justify the appointment by working hard to make us proud.
    Mr Speaker, I am most grateful for the opportunity.
    Mr Speaker 11:16 a.m.
    Thank you very much Hon Leader.
    That ends Statements time.
    Hon Members, at the Commencement of Public Business, item listed 4, Motion.
    Hon Chairman of the Committee, are we ready with this item?
    Mr Ameyaw-Cheremeh 11:16 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, unfortunately, the Report is being finalised by the Committee, so we may not be able to take item 4 now.
    Mr Speaker 11:16 a.m.
    Hon First Deputy Speaker, if you would kindly take the chair.
    Mr Ahmed Ibrahim 11:16 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I was trying to draw the attention of the Hon Majority Chief Whip to the fact that the Report is in the House. It was laid, and it has been distributed to Hon Members.
    We were supposed to take the Motion yesterday, but the Hon Chairman was not available. So if the Hon Chairman is not here we could take it tomorrow.
    Mr Ameyaw-Cheremeh 11:16 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minority Whip has just drawn my attention to it that he even has a copy of the Report. Unfortunately, the Hon Chairman himself is not in the House.
    The impression I had was that the Report was being finalised. I do not have a copy myself. So we may step it down for tomorrow when the Hon Chairman is available.
    Mr Speaker 11:16 a.m.
    Very well.
    Item listed 5.
    Mr Ameyaw-Cheremeh 11:16 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, regarding the issue of the Right to Information Bill --
    Mr Speaker 11:16 a.m.
    Hon Majority Chief Whip, just a moment, we would come to that soon.
    Item listed 5, Right to Information Bill at the Consideration Stage.
    Mr Ameyaw-Cheremeh 11:16 a.m.
    Thank you Mr Speaker.
    There is this amendment standing in the name of Hon Frederick Opare-Ansah. Leadership would want to confer on this introduction, because originally it was not part of the Bill. It is a new thought that is coming out, and Leadership of the Committee would need to discuss it to see the need or appropriateness of it.
    So the Hon Majority Leader believes that we should defer a further Consideration on the Right to Information Bill for today, so that we can discuss it probably tomorrow or Tuesday.
    Mr Ahmed Ibrahim 11:16 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, we have no objection. It was a directive from the Hon Chair by the Hon First Deputy Speaker yesterday, that the Hon Majority Leader and the Hon Minority Leader should meet and discuss it, because we virtually finished the entire Bill yesterday, and this amendment came as an afterthought.
    However, he said since we could not decide on it, the two Leaders should go and consult and bring a Report to you.
    So Mr Speaker, once they have not reported to you, it means the consultation is not yet concluded, and it would be better if we agree to step it down like the Hon Majority Chief Whip has said, and continue maybe, tomorrow or Tuesday, if they get back to--
    Mr Speaker 11:26 a.m.
    Hon Members, we should be clear in our minds what the issue at stake here is. There is a school of thought that we need to give some time for the Act to come into effect so that expenses to be incurred in the implementation thereof would be taken care of.
    If my memory serves me right on what I have been briefed on, that is a quintessence of the issue at the moment. Hon Majority Chief Whip, is that correct?
    Mr Ameyaw-Cheremeh 11:26 a.m.
    That is so, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Ahmed Ibrahim 11:26 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I agree with you. I was one of those who were against this particular amendment yesterday, but my attention was drawn to it this morning that it was not in the Budget Statement; the President did not budget for it. Mr Speaker, becasue if he did not budget for it, we would be tempted to allow some time so that there would be a budget for it.
    Mr Ameyaw-Cheremeh 11:26 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, once a Bill has not been passed, how do we budget for it? The Bill has not been passed. We are still considering it. So what provision do we make for it? I believe the Hon Member gave his statement a political twist which is unfortunate.
    Mr Speaker 11:26 a.m.
    From this, there is also an assumption therefore that this would take some 12 months to provide money. I do not think we would want to honestly assume that. We would pass it on to the Executive.
    We all know the backlash we have had in this House over this Bill. Let it now be clear that we have essentially finished and we are giving the Executive time to indicate
    commencement in line with budgetary considerations. We would want this to be very clear and I would therefore say that any negotiations or discussions in this connection must move quickly and end by close of day tomorrow.
    Hon Majority Chief Whip, I hope I am clear.
    Mr Ameyaw-Cheremeh 11:26 a.m.
    Yes, Mr Speaker. We are taking guidance from what you have said.
    Mr Speaker 11:26 a.m.
    We have finished our business essentially. They should let us know what is there because we would not want to assume even 12 months. Maybe in a month, we can make some supplementary provision or whatever.
    That is the business of the Executive and I would definitely not want to recommend a 12 month period. It does not lie in our mouth to assume such length of time.
    Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh 11:26 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, when this amendment was moved yesterday, we were all ready to debate it if the Hon Member who proposed the amendment had indicated reasons he moved it. We pointed out to him that as Parliament, we did not bring this Bill here. It was brought by the Executive.
    I have never heard of establishing a system or a right which is in the Constitution which is now conditional to the provision of budget. In the Budget Statement we have contingency, and we said that we wanted reasons why this should be delayed.
    Mr Speaker, it would not be a good sign for this Parliament to do what we are doing. Mr Speaker, on your own, self-censorship, you want to decide when the Executive would be ready. Why? Has the Executive brought any amendment? No. Have they
    Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh 11:26 a.m.
    changed them? Unless of course the whole idea of passing the Bill is for cosmetic reasons.

    We cannot just give birth to a baby and expect it to be running. It must first of all crawl. I think that it is not a right thing to do at all.

    Those who have this afterthought -- people were sent to places to study their Right to Information enactment and from the beginning in the memorandum and all that, this argument should have been advanced but it was not.

    It would be a retrograde step for us to talk about it at the last minute. I believe it would not be a good sign for this Parliament. We should insist on passing the Bill as quickly as possible.
    Alhaji I.A.B. Fuseini 11:26 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, yesterday, I had the opportunity to talk on this matter. There are occasions that Parliament as a legislative body can take on policy making functions, especially under the British system. When the Executive fails to agree on a policy, then Parliament can take over the policy and help shape it. Mr Speaker, this is not the case.
    A typical example of Parliament taking over policy -- because that is not the domain of Parliament. A typical example of Parliament taking over policy, is what is happening in the British Parliament today where Brexit has challenges at the Executive level, so Parliament then proposes amendments on matters of policy.
    Mr Speaker, that is not what we are considering.
    Mr Speaker, yesterday, my difficulty was under what authority the amendment being proposed was, because that amendment is on a matter of principle and our Standing Orders say that at the Consideration Stage, we do not consider principles.
    So if the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice had come to tell us that at this Consideration Stage, on second thought, they think that we should give some time for the implementation of the law, that would have originated from the Executive and we as Parliament would be enjoined.
    I do not want to think that the Executive is using subterfuge to get an amendment done because why do we say as Parliament that we want to constrain the Executive from the implementation of the law? It is not our remit.
    An Hon Member 11:26 a.m.
    This is how you were taught? [Laughter.]
    Alhaji I.A.B. Fuseini 11:36 a.m.
    This is how I was taught and this is exactly how I was taught -- [Laughter] -- that we should limit our functions because of the 1992 Constitution, that we should limit the performance of our functions to the very details of the Constitution that gives us those functions.
    Mr Speaker, the amendment has well intentions but how do we know the intentions of the Executive? Is it not by an amended Bill to Parliament? That is how
    we get to know the intention of the Executive; it is not by Parliament itself second guessing the intention of the Executive.
    So my Hon Colleagues, as I said yesterday, we do not create the desire to actualise the operation of article 23 then take away the performance. That is what we are trying to do.
    Mr Speaker, in this country, the only two instances that come to mind where the operation of a Bill has been suspended have been the Constitution itself, which is the grand law, when we voted in the referendum to pass the Constitution but said it would take effect on 7th January, 1993, it is because certain steps had to be taken under it.

    The same way, in this Parliament, the only time that we suspended the operation of a law after it had been passed, was the Representation of People's Amendment Law (ROPAL) when we said that to be able to implement the ROPAL, we needed to register Ghanaians everywhere.

    So the law could not have immediate effect when Ghanaians would be voting because there could be a by-election. That was the only reason, but this one, there is no reason at all.

    Mr Speaker, assuming but not admitted, are we saying that our public institutions do not keep records? Are we saying that our public institutions do not have information officers? Are we saying that today, if we file an application for information, our public institutions would be incapable of giving us the information?

    We cannot say that. So I crave the indulgence of Members of Parliament, let us pass it; there is already a budget for all public institutions, we do not need supplementary to be able to do anything because even in the recruitment, we have said that in this law, where there is no information officer, somebody in public institution shall be designated.

    Mr Speaker, gracefully, I crave your indulgence and I heard you make a preliminary comment about this being in the domain of the Executive. Mr Speaker, that is rightly so. So as Parliament, we should do what is needful, and what is needful is to pass the law without considering the transitional provision.
    Mr Mahama Ayariga 11:36 a.m.
    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. This is a House of records, and this is a House that also draws its mandate from the Constitution. I think that on a case by case basis, we could take decisions but let us be careful when we ground those decisions on general constitutional principles that may not all together be right.
    Mr Speaker, I think there are two issues here; there is an issue of whether in this particular case, we want to set a date when this law comes into force. That is the matter that is based on the economics of the legislations, based on the institutional architecture and the infrastructure that we want to put in place, we could debate in this House.
    But in the argument of the Hon Inusah Fuseini, he raises issues about the powers of this House; the power when enacting
    Mr Mahama Ayariga 11:36 a.m.
    legislation, to also determine the date when that legislation should come into force.
    I think that leg of his argument which seeks to question the capacity of this House in enacting legislation, to determine the date on which it should come into force, is not founded on our Constitution.
    This House could enact legislation and also determine when that legislation should come into effect. So I disagree with him when he says that constitutionally, we would have no foundation to do as is being proposed.
    But I also agree with him that those who are proposing the legislation should be clear on their position on the appropriate time for the commencement or the coming into force of the legislation.
    Mr Speaker, I also dare to say that it does not really have to be the Executive telling us in this House because when a Bill comes to this House, it becomes the property of this House. It is a property that we could do what we please with so far as we remain within the confines of this Constitution.
    So it is also not altogether right and appropriate legally to want to say that this kind of amendment can only legitimately be coming from the Executive. It could come from an ordinary Member of this House so long as it carries the majority of this House along.
    I would therefore like to say that we should be careful about the legal arguments for not wanting to accept the proposal, but I want to support his position that the Executive should be clear to us in this House whether they want the commencement of this Bill to be deferred
    to any date, and what is the basis of wanting to defer the commencement of this Bill, especially when — ?
    Mr Speaker, we must commend you that since you assumed office, especially this year, you have done everything possible to fulfil the public promise that this House would pass this legislation and make sure it comes into force.
    Mr Speaker, you must be commended for your effort. Since we resumed Sitting in the last two days, you have insisted that we expedite action and have this Bill passed by this House and presented to the President for his assent and for it to come into force.
    If after this haste, we then tell the public that it would come into force next year, why then do we not wait till next year, when we have the resources to let it come into force?

    Mr Speaker, on that note, I also disagree with the effort to postpone the coming into force of this legislation.

    Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
    Mr Speaker 11:46 a.m.
    Thank you very much, Hon Members, for this discussion herein.
    It is a fact that legislation cannot be retrospective, nevertheless, it can be futuristic. We should get that clear. And a date in the future can be fixed by this Honourable House according to how it views the exigencies of the time, the purpose and definition of that particular Bill.
    It is also important to note that it is a good principle of good governance that the Legislature, in passing laws, must cooperate with the Executive so that after
    passage, there is smooth application of the law that is envisaged. So that kind of cooperation should present no difficulty whatsoever.
    Nevertheless, suspending the operation of Right to Information (RTI) Law would not sit well with our public. [Hear! Hear!] If there is any such good reason, definitely, it would come from the Executive and it should come from the Executive.
    Within the next few days, the Executive would let us know and any explanation regarding that, would come from the Executive not the Legislature, and I think that is fair and proper enough.
    As we talk, we do not know the purse capacity of the Executive in this connection, then, without reference to them, we say, they would not have the money to do it therefore we should wait for one year.
    We are not seized with the capacity to say that to the Executive. Maybe, they could do it tomorrow morning, we do not know.
    Nevertheless, again, we would give the Executive appropriate time up to Tuesday, 5th February, 2019 to dialogue with this Honourable House and consider whether they are in a position to enforce this immediately. I know the Executive would take a very good consideration of the matter.
    Therefore please, list the matter for Tuesday, 5th February, 2019 in the full hope that the Hon Learned Attorney-General and Minister for Justice would advise us either in writing or in person, so that we conclude this matter to the satisfaction of our people as a whole.

    Majority leadership, any indication at this time?

    The Consideration Stage is over, so if the Mace may be put right so that we conclude Business.

    Majority Leadership?
    Mr Ameyaw-Cheremeh 11:46 a.m.
    Mr Speaker,
    we have exhausted the Businesses listed for today, and I wish to move that the House would be adjourned till tomorrow 10 o' clock in the forenoon.
    Mr Speaker 11:46 a.m.
    Minority Leadership?
    Mr Ahmed Ibrahim 11:46 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, even though Business is light today, today's proceedings seems to be one of the best and the Hansard should be one of the research documents.
    Thank you very much for the wise ruling. We are most grateful and would forever be grateful to you.
    Mr Speaker, with these few words, I support the Motion for adjournment.
    Mr Speaker 11:46 a.m.
    Hon Member, I did not hear you say you second the Motion for adjournment.
    Mr Ibrahim 11:46 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I said with that kind of support for the Chair, I second the Motion for adjournment. [laughter].
    Mr Speaker 11:46 a.m.
    You were more interested in the strenuous matters than the real matter immediately before you. [Laughter].
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    ADJOURNMENT 11:46 a.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 11.50 a.m. till Friday, 1st February, 2019, at 10.00 a.m.