Debates of 20 Feb 2019

PRAYERS 10:11 a.m.


Mr Speaker 10:11 a.m.
Hon Members, Commu- nication from the President. In fact, this was received in my office on 15th February, 2019. Unfortunately, yesterday, it was not read in my absence.

Mr Speaker 10:11 a.m.
Hon Members, correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report.
The Votes and Proceedings dated 19th February, 2019.
Page 1…10 --
Mr Speaker 10:11 a.m.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Ablakwa 10:11 a.m.
Mr Speaker, in the first paragraph - on page 10, the acronym, “GIRSALP” should come after the word “project”. It has been wrongly positioned.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker 10:11 a.m.
Any more on page 10?
Mr Speaker 10:11 a.m.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:11 a.m.
Mr Speaker, for the umpteenth time, let me make reference to the list of Hon Members who are alleged to have been present in this Chamber yesterday.
Mr Speaker, going through the list, there are many Hon Members who were simply not in this Chamber, yet we have some scheme of marking them present all the time. It does not do the image of this House any good, and we encourage such Hon Members who absent themselves from this House not to come to Parliament.
This is because whether or not they appear in the House, they would be marked as present. Mr Speaker, that is not
good. If a Member is not in the House, that person should be so recognised that he was not in this Chamber to represent his constituents for whatever reason. It is incorrect.
Mr Speaker, I do not want to mention names but just take page six, and I can count at least, ten people who were not in this House but they have been marked present. It is unacceptable.
Mr Speaker 10:11 a.m.
Hon Yieleh Chireh?
Mr Chireh 10:11 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I am really very happy that the Hon Majority Leader has raised this issue again. This is because there was a ruling in this House about those who write their names or sign the paper in the mails room, which shows that they have come.
But there was another book here. If a Member does not enter the Chamber here, his signature in the mails room would not be recognised.
Now, if somebody has signed at the mails room and walked away, at the end of the Sitting, the people compiling the list would virtually refer to it. But we have been talking about an equipment to clock people in and out. If we do not go ahead and bring that, this argument cannot be concluded; because what shows the evidence?
Mr Speaker, when it is convenient, Hon Members would say that there were so many people in the Chamber so the decision that was made was correct when, indeed, there were no people in the Chamber.
We cannot do that. We have to be consistent and I believe that your guidance in this matter would be important. This is because the issue turns
Mr Speaker 10:21 a.m.
Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Haruna Iddrisu 10:21 a.m.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. The Hon Leader of Government Business has raised a legitimate issue, and in all fairness to you, you have repeatedly demanded punctuality and attendance upon the House by Hon Members, and it is important that we respect that.
Mr Speaker, I recall that the last time this matter was raised, the Hon Mubarak had said that we should take advantage of this digital platform that I am holding now, so that Hon Members would be digitally recognised as they enter the Chamber. Probably, it should be one of the future considerations and directives that you and the Clerk, who must have possession of this thing, should give and get it more functional.
Mr Speaker, there was an earlier ruling by the Rt Hon Speaker in the past as to what constituted attendance onto the House. I am sure that we would have to revisit it and see whether it was a matter
that was limited to just signing the register or actual physical presence in the Chamber, and whether even by extension, an Hon Member could come in here and walk away to do other Business at the level of the Committee. It is also another matter.
Mr Speaker, once the Hon Leader has raised it -- As the Hon Yeileh Chireh said, there have been times that we rely on our numbers in order to take a decision, and sometimes it is so heavy an issue that even decisions we take in this House can be questioned any day by any citizen, as to whether it complies with the constitutional provisions.
For instance, by article 268, the requirement may be two-thirds of Hon Members of Parliament present. Now, if we go and determine it based on a fake registration or attendance, we would have taken a decision that may not be strictly speaking binding on us legally .
Mr Speaker, however, to be fair to you, there has been no opportunity at your opening or closing remarks, where you have not indicated to Hon Members that we should come on time, at exactly 10.00 a. m.
You have indicated it repeatedly, so it has now gone beyond us trying to use it -- As the Hon Yieleh Chireh said, when it is convenient, those numbers can serve a purpose, but when it does not serve a purpose, then it is wrong. I do not believe that is the way to go.
Mr Speaker, I would however, want my Hon Colleagues to know that integrity is important in what we do. Recently, when there was a matter we were discussing -- To quote the Hon First Deputy Speaker, he said that even the matter of privilege and immunity, which is enjoyed as an additional right of an Hon Member of Parliament is contingent on an Hon
Member of Parliament attending upon the Business of Parliament.
So when is an Hon Member entitled to invoke that they deserve the benefits of those rights, when indeed, they are not in Parliament, and are not attending upon the Business of Parliament?
Mr Speaker, we would need to take it as a serious rule, guided by you, but I would want my Hon Colleagues to know that if we cannot be sincere with coming to this House, then how can we be sincere with the work that we do? I believe that this is a serious indictment on us, and as I have said, it is good that the Hon Majority Leader raised it.
Maybe, we should, for the time being, accept that appearance in the Chamber is the mandatory requirement to meet participation of Business in this House, and not just limit it or narrow it to the register.
We should also get the Information Communication Technology (ICT) Department -- I know once you are convinced, this would be a matter of decision. They can activate this process.
Mr Speaker, the beauty of it is that, once it is a person's thumb, and they have a data that they would hold on to, nobody can corrupt that data in order to say that he or she was that person who attended upon Parliament. So we should move on to the digital platform.
I noticed that the testing of the digital gadget was limited only to Leadership, but we should expand it for all Hon Members in order that when we arrive, the first thing would be for us to apply our thumbs to announce that we have arrived in the Chamber, and it would be digitally recorded.
It would be like the phone text message. One cannot recall it, and one cannot change it. So we would await your guidance, as you have consistently done, that Hon Members uphold high levels of integrity when it comes to matters of punctuality.
I thank you.
Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka 10:21 a.m.
Mr Speaker, ordinarily, I should not speak after the two Hon Leaders have spoken, except to add that there is a growing trend that we would need to also check. The Committee Chairpersons would come early in the morning and then do a schedule to hold meetings.
So Hon Members who have driven themselves here would not even enter the Chamber, but would go straight into a meeting. Obviously, they would want to be captured as being present.
Mr Speaker, there has been a ruling in this House, where even Leadership concurred that all Committee sittings should be held after we have adjourned Sittings at Plenary, unless it becomes necessary, in which case, permission should be sought from the Hon Majority Leader.
Hon Members of Parliament are ignoring this, and sometimes they even hold meetings outside the precincts of Parliament and assume that once they have attended that Committee meeting, they should be marked present.
So obviously, when we come the next morning, we see names of faces that we did not see in the Chamber the previous day, but when we accuse them, then they would tell us that they were in a meeting at Alisa Hotel, at Job 600 Complex, or in other places.
Mr Speaker 10:21 a.m.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader and Leader of the House?
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:31 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I think I should be thankful to my Hon Colleagues for adding to the issues that I have raised.
The ruling on this matter that was given by the late Rt Hon Peter Ala Adjetey has not been overturned by any Speaker. In that regard, it still holds. What it means is that appearance inside this Chamber is the only evidence that we have attended to the Business of Parliament. That is how it is.
Mr Speaker, these other matters that my Hon Colleague, the Hon Minority Chief Whip raised, regarding clocking in and out is just to emphasise the point that it is only when someone is here that one should be recognised as having attended upon Parliament.
Mr Speaker, the issue raised, with respect to Members attending to the business of certain Committees and wanting to be marked as having been present in the Chamber is untenable. The
Standing Order 7 that he refers to does not give them any cover. Standing Order 7 defines Sitting of the House, which I beg to quote as follows;
“Sitting includes a period during which Parliament is sitting continuously without adjournment and a period during which it is in Committee.”
The “it” there refers to Parliament, When Parliament is in Committee, that is the Committee of the Whole. That is what it means. It is not the various Committee sittings. So nobody can take cover under that definition of Sittings. It does not include Committee sittings. It is Committee of Parliament and it is Committee of the Whole.
So for those of them who would want to take comfort under that cover that sitting in Committees — Otherwise, when Parliament Sits — I see some shaking of heads. The shaking of the heads could continue — [Laughter.] — If Sitting in a Committee should be construed as part of Sitting in a Chamber, you would not have a separate column to identify Members who were sitting in that Committee.
We would not then have a separate column provided for that. In that case, you are here anyway, so why do we provide a separate column to indicate that these Members attended to the meeting of a Committee?
Mr Speaker, so, that is how it is, and as I said, the ruling given by the late Rt Hon Peter Ala Adjetey has not been overturned by any succeeding Speaker and that should hold good for us. It is as simple as that.
Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu 10:31 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I did not intend to contribute to this one because I have raised the matter on a number of occasions. But going through the number of Members present, I see something which suggests that it cannot be the Members signing the register and leaving.
This is because, I see here, the names of Members whom you have granted permission to travel. I have seen the forms and they have actually travelled but they are marked present. Which means that somebody is marking the register on behalf of others, and I think that is the part that we must consider.
I have also observed some Special Assistants or Research Assistants actually going to mark on behalf of their bosses. They have no right to do that. A register for Hon Members is to be signed by Hon Members only. And then we have some Hon Colleagues also signing on behalf of others.
I think that people may take it that they are assisting the person or other. But the danger is that, we take decisions which people must have personal responsibility for. So if a decision is taken in my absence and the record says I was present, it would be difficult to exclude myself when the register is used to confront me.
So we must be very wary of permitting people other than Members of Parliament, indeed, other friends signing the register.
Every time I go through the register, I see people I have not seen in the Chamber for weeks; their names are marked every day as present. I think that we should be very careful in encouraging this kind of practice.

think the Hon Majority Leader premised his argument on Standing Order 7 and argued that Standing Order 7, in mentioning sitting of Committee, limits it to Parliament Sitting as a Committee of the Whole.

Mr Speaker, I think you need to rule on this matter. And in doing so, I think you should also advert your mind to the definition of ‘‘Committee'' in the same Standing Order7, which gives us a definition which I beg to quote:

“Committee means a Committee of the whole, a Standing, Select, Special or Ad hoc Committee.”

Mr Speaker, why would it be that the word, “Committee” used can only be interpreted by the Hon Majority Leader to mean “Committee of the Whole”? This is because it says that Parliament sitting in Committee.

Mr Speaker knows that any time Parliament is sitting in Committee, the Committee assumes all the powers of Parliament and acts as if Parliament were Sitting at any location. Therefore we have to treat a meeting of the Committee, where a Member is in attendance in any given day as having attended Parliament.

Mr Speaker, so it would be important for you to give a more purposeful interpretation to this provision of the Standing Order, and to review the earlier rulings that have been given in defining — Because there are days when we as members of the Appointments Committee sometimes come for a whole week and we really never sit in the Chamber.

We go straight to the Appointments Committee, sit sometimes till midnight and transact business on behalf of this House. And simply because we have not walked

into this Chamber, we are being marked as having not attended the Sitting of Parliament, when the whole of Ghana saw us sitting in public and dealing with parliamentary business.

Mr Speaker, I think that a more purposeful construction ought to be given to Standing Order 7, so that when we are sitting as a Committee, we can be deemed to have attended Parliament and transacted parliamentary business.
Mr Speaker 10:41 a.m.
Hon Majority Leader, any contribution towards this purposiveness? — [Laughter] — which actually contains substance? We create a forum whereby work is manifestly being done and then we may have to take some other decision not consistent with what is happening at the forum.
A quick one, because I believe this matter deserves very serious consideration. Nevertheless, as for the formal signing in, it should be done so that you would then go to Committee or wherever to work, including vetting of nominees, which has reached an advanced stage.
In fact, I am being advised that yesterday, the Tender Committee met and decided upon the award of a contract. I am just being informed. We would know what happens to that.

I would advise that the two leaders from both Sides should kindly meet soon after this and know the state of that matter and how to expedite it no matter what, so that a conclusive decision is taken.

Hon Muntaka, you may proceed.
Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka 10:41 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I vehemently disagree with my Colleague, the Hon Mahama Ayariga.
Mr Speaker, I have never been an English student; but when we read -- and I crave your indulgence to read: “the same Sitting includes a period during which Parliament is Sitting continuously without adjournment and the period during which it is ....” -- In my understanding of this “it” is referring to Parliament and not to the Committee.
Mr Speaker, the danger with expanding it to include the Committees will mean, when the Hon First Deputy Speaker and I are attending onto the Pan-African Parliament, then we should be marked present because we are conducting business on behalf of Parliament.
When the Hon Mahama Ayariga attends ECOWAS Parliament, he should be marked present. This Chamber would then be empty and yet, the 275 Hon Members would be indicated present on the Votes and Proceedings.
Mr Speaker, I strongly would want you to agree with the late Speaker, Rt Hon Peter Ala Adjetey when the time comes for your ruling on this, that the only way one should be marked present in the Votes and Proceedings is when the person is in this Chamber.
Mr Speaker, I have served on the Appointments Committee since the year 2005. At all times, the Chairpersons of the Appointments Committee will always caution that we start from the Chamber.
He would advise that we go and sit in the Chamber for a while before we go and continue. It is only when Parliament is not Sitting that the Appointments Committee will sit straight from our homes.
Mr Speaker, so let us encourage all Hon Members who work in Committees to first report to the Chamber. If it becomes necessary for them to go and hold the Committee sitting because of its importance, they would have to seek permission from Leadership.
This is because the Business of the House would determine whether the Leadership, especially the Hon Majority Leader, would say that they could go and have the Committee sitting or wait for us to finish a particular business before they could step out.
But if we make a ruling that sitting in Committee means being present, then we should be ready to have an empty Chamber but see 275 Members being present in the Votes and Proceedings the next day.
So I disagree with the understanding given by Hon Ayariga, because if we go by his definition, then by extension, it would be extremely difficult for this House to advert its mind to Orders 48 and 109.
Order 48 requires that there should be a quorum in this House to start business. Order 109 requires that some minimum number should be here before a decision could be taken; all that would be undermined.
Mr Speaker 10:41 a.m.
Hon Members, in fact, we must be so guided also because a Member is entitled to be absent with permission, which does not therefore count as being absent in any manner whatsoever.

Hon Members, this matter is very delicate and sensitive and must be looked at very holistically, because it is possible to have a purposive approach without undermining matters that require our presence in a certain manner. So let us have the proceedings to appropriate persons soon after this meeting.

Also, we thank God for the advice of the Clerk to Parliament that the process has reached the conclusive stage. I thank him very much.

Hon Members, but I have not finished with the Votes and Proceedings.
Mr Ayariga 10:41 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for a very favourable ruling. [Laughter.]
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:41 a.m.
Mr Speaker, the “favourable ruling” is to advance the course of this House. I believe my Hon Colleague would know where he now stands.
Certainly, if the determination of the quorum number should include Committee members, then anybody who gets up to say that there is no quorum in the House should first satisfy himself by the numbers in the various Committee sittings, and that would be reducing Sitting to a level of absurdity. So he should check his own facts.

Mr Speaker, so I do not think we need to eternally litigate this matter. For the avoidance of doubt, Hon Members would need to show presence in the House.

Mr Speaker, again, let us counsel those of them who are responsible for ensuring that Hon Members are here before they mark them as present. We cannot continue to have this rather ridiculous numbers being churned out every day when we can ourselves attest to the fact that the people are not in the Chamber.

Mr Speaker, I guess we can rest it for a while and make progress.
Mr Speaker 10:41 a.m.
Hon Members, page 10,
Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 19th February, 2019 as corrected and further discussed be hereby admitted as true record of proceedings.
We have the Official Report dated Friday, 1 st February, 2019. Any corrections?
Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa 10:51 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I have a few corrections to make. In the last paragraph of Column 259 -- “Public Accounts Committee has scheduled to be looked into ‘at' this particular meeting”
Mr Speaker, “at” should replace “on” over there.
Mr Speaker, the paragraph 4 of column 265 should read, “activities being carried out currently include clearing, excavation and filling”. So, “excavate and fill” should read, “excavation and filling”.
Mr Speaker 10:51 a.m.
Thank you very much, it is well taken.

Hon Members, the Official Report of Friday, 1st February, 2019 as corrected is hereby admitted as the true records of the proceedings.

Hon Members, item listed 3 -- Urgent Question. Hon Minister for Agriculture?
Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka 10:51 a.m.
Mr Speaker, this is a worrying comment from the Hon Majority Leader because if we look at the Answer portion of the Order Paper, a very detailed Answer has been provided with an appendix totalling almost seven or eight pages.
If the Hon Minister for Agriculture would tell Parliament that an Answer that he forwarded to it falls short of some other information and there are inaccuracies, then we all need to be worried.
First of all, the Answer should not be here for him to come and tell us that there are inaccuracies. For the Answers to be here, the Hon Minister should have been here to answer this Question and probably tell us where he thinks the shortfalls are.
Mr Speaker, this Question was not filed just yesterday. If you track the records of this House, the Question was not forwarded to the Hon Minister for Agriculture yesterday.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:51 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I believe that the Hon Minority Chief Whip in his haste to take a swipe at the Hon Minister for Agriculture, would not even advert his mind to what is before us.

Mr Speaker, I am most surprised at the Hon Minority Chief Whip. It is an Urgent Question, and for such Questions, Answers are not provided. The Minority Chief Whip is too experienced a Member of Parliament to know this, yet, for whatever reason, he decided to do his own thing and went into a separate theatre. [Interruption.] -- We are not there yet!

Mr Speaker, I agree that Hon Ministers should be here and I have always insisted that they should come and take possession of their own Questions. So I am addressing the Urgent Question. [Interruption.] -- We are not at the other Questions regarding which he went on his own display. We are not there yet, so he should save his breath.

Mr Speaker, the issue relates to the Urgent Question and he knows that for such Questions, Answers are not advertised. So why he elected to do what he did, I cannot understand.
Alhaji Muntaka 10:51 a.m.
Mr Speaker, on this note, the Hon Majority Leader is right. I had seen the Question numbered 510 and the Answer attached, which is for the Minister for Agriculture. I did not know he was referring to the - I just saw the Urgent Question. He is right.
Mr Speaker, but the worrying thing is that if he has three Questions to answer and he has a challenge with one, if truly, he takes this House seriously, he would have come to answer the two that he has provided Answers to, so that he takes excuse for the third one he is still waiting to gather Answers on.
Even the Hon Majority Leader agrees with me that the House gave him adequate time to come and answer the Question.
Mr Speaker, at least, the two Questions that have Answers ready should have been answered. I admit that the Hon Majority Leader made reference to the Urgent Question while I was referring to the two starred Questions. The Answers to those two starred Questions are ready. Where is the Hon Minister to answer them, if he really takes this House seriously?
Mr Speaker 10:51 a.m.
Shall we resolve item numbered 3, the matter of the Urgent Question first?
Hon Majority Leader, when can the Hon Minister for Agriculture come?
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:51 a.m.
Mr Speaker, as I indicated, when I had the discussion with him --
Mr Speaker 11:01 a.m.
When, please? What day?
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:01 a.m.
Mr Speaker, he said Tuesday or Wednesday.
Mr Speaker 11:01 a.m.
Let us take Tuesday.
Hon Minority Whip, there is a day difference between Friday and Tuesday;
Mr Speaker 11:01 a.m.

shall we agree on the Hon Minister coming on Tuesday?
Alhaji Muntaka 11:01 a.m.
Mr Speaker, we take directives from you; if Tuesday is alright, that is fine.
Mr Speaker 11:01 a.m.
Very well; the Answer to the Question by the Hon Minister is adjourned to Tuesday.
Now we would come to Question 510.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:01 a.m.
Mr Speaker, as I indicated, the decision has been taken that Hon Ministers are to come here to take possession of --
Mr Speaker 11:01 a.m.
Hon Majority Leader, can one of the Hon Deputy Minister's answer this Question?
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:01 a.m.
Mr Speaker, there is only one Hon Deputy Minister with us in the Chamber now.
Mr Speaker 11:01 a.m.
Is the Hon Deputy Minister able or in the position to answer the Question?
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:01 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I have no signal from any of the Hon Ministers here that they have the responsibility as far as the two Questions here are concerned.
Mr Speaker 11:01 a.m.
The Hon Deputy Minister is not in the position to answer. We would just want to know that and move on.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:01 a.m.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister with us does not have the schedule at the Ministry for this. So I would want to plead --
Mr Speaker 11:01 a.m.
Hon Majority Leader, please, let us know -- is the Hon Deputy Minister in the position to proceed or not? We just want that.
Mr Speaker 11:01 a.m.
He is not in the position to proceed.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:01 a.m.
That is why I would want to plead that we conjoin these two Questions to the Urgent Question, so that the Hon Minister comes on either Tuesday or Wednesday to answer the three Questions.
Mr Speaker 11:01 a.m.
The Hon Deputy Minister is not in the position to proceed with Questions 510 and 511.
Very often we allow them. We do not want a situation whereby we would not know our way forward as a House. However, if the Hon Deputy Minister is not in the position to proceed, we are not in the position to compel him either. The Questions would be answered in full next Tuesday.
We would, therefore, move to Question 514 -- Hon Member for Ejura- Sekyeredumase should get ready. The Question is to the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:01 a.m.
Mr Speaker, unfortunately, yesterday when the Questions were stood down, I understand that they were relocated to today.
As I said, I was not in the Chamber. When I met him in the evening at a Cabinet meeting and had a discussion with him, he indicated that he would not be able to be here with us today because he had to be outside Accra for three programmes. He asked that he would rather avail himself on Friday. The Hon Minister is outside Accra.
Indeed, His Excellency the President insists that Hon Ministers should come to this House and take possession of their own Questions. If Hon Ministers are in Accra, they should not have any excuse not to be in Parliament to answer Questions.
Mr Speaker, with respect, on Friday, the Hon Minister would be here to answer the Questions.
Mr Iddrisu 11:01 a.m.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry -- Earlier, it was the Hon Minister for Agriculture.
Mr Speaker, Parliamentary oversight is better exercised with the instrument of Questions to elucidate Answers, and to hold Hon Ministers and their Agencies accountable to the Parliament and the people of Ghana.
I express my disappointment and disquiet that we do not have the two Hon Ministers here even though the Leader of Government Business has laboured to justify their absence.
Mr Speaker, the Leader of Government Business has quoted the President's insistence. He should therefore assist the President, so that Hon Ministers demonstrate -- We know some Hon Ministers who rarely come to this House to even participate in the process of parliamentary debate.
Yesterday, it was understandable because I subsequently read in the media that the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry had an engagement with the Council of State. If it was yesterday, it could have been forgiven.
Mr Speaker, but today, we cannot accept that going forward, even so for the Hon Minister for Agriculture. Why do we have Hon Deputy Ministers,
indeed, more Hon Deputy Ministers and Hon Ministers of State? They must assist them and appear before Parliament. [Interruption.] If he is unprepared, he is unprepared.
Mr Speaker, we have noted and we would take your guidance; but the Hon Leader must assist this House, as the Leader of Government Business and Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, to ensure that Hon Ministers are here on time to respond to issues.
We would not accept that a Question got to an Hon Minister at midnight. That was the excuse of the Hon Minister for Agriculture, who said he got the Answer -- Which Answer? We would follow the trail on when the Table Office wrote to him and when he should have known.
Mr Speaker, yesterday, the Hon Minister for Communications was here. She prepared an Order Paper Addendum to respond to a Question. Hon Ministers must demonstrate that they are in charge, and they must appear before Parliament. They must not only control budgets, other matters and the portfolio, or exercise control on behalf of the President. They must be here.
Mr Speaker, we would accept the labour of the Hon Majority Leader to justify their absence. He should try to ensure that they are here tomorrow.
Mr Speaker, we go with your ruling on the Hon Minister for Agriculture. The Hon Majority Leader, in his conclusion, tried to introduce Wednesday. Mr Speaker, you said Tuesday.
For the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry, Hon Members who are to ask the Questions would travel for the
presidential primaries. So Mr Speaker, Tuesday would hold for all of them.
Thank you.
Mr Speaker 11:01 a.m.
The relevant Questions -- 514, 515, 532 and 533 -- are adjourned to Friday accordingly. [Interruption.] Is that also for Tuesday?
If I heard the Hon Majority Leader correctly, he said the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry would come on Friday.
Is that correct?
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:01 a.m.
Mr Speaker, that was what I said; but the --
Mr Speaker 11:01 a.m.
Is that so?
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:01 a.m.
That was what I said, and that was the communication from the Hon Minister.
Mr Speaker 11:01 a.m.
I am ruling on the basis of what the Hon Leader of Government Business said. The Hon Minister for Trade and Industry would therefore come before the House on Friday.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:01 a.m.
Mr Speaker, after I had made that intervention, the -- [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker 11:01 a.m.
Hon Minority Leader, I hope you are listening?
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:11 a.m.
The Hon Minority Leader is giving a signal that on Friday, many of their Hon Members would be required to travel to their constituencies in the lead up to the holding of the presidential primaries for the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
So he is making a request to us --
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:11 a.m.
Mr Speaker,
he is making a request to us that we rather relocate --
Mr Speaker 11:11 a.m.
Next week Tuesday, then.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 11:11 a.m.
Mr Speaker, but in that regard I would then have to consult the Hon Minister whether he would be available on Tuesday. So, subject to the availability of the Hon Minister, we have --
Mr Speaker 11:11 a.m.
Hon Members, we shall make progress. Item listed 5 -- Statements in the name of the Hon Member for the Mfantseman Constituency on Smooth Implementation of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act 2006 (Act 699)(ROPAA) in the 2020 elections.
STATEMENTS 11:11 a.m.

Mr Ekow Hayford (NPP -- Mfantseman) 11:21 a.m.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to make this Statement on working towards a smooth implementation of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act 2006 (Act 699)(ROPAA) in the 2020 Elections.
Mr Speaker, the right to vote to determine one's representation remains one of the fundamental human rights afforded persons of age in any democratic dispensation.
Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution safeguards this right to vote. It states thus:
“Every citizen of Ghana of 18years of age or above and of sound mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered as a voter for the purposes of public elections and referenda”.
Ghana, as a beacon of democracy in Africa, is no exception to this phenomenon.
Indeed, with our enviable track-record of peaceful elections for well over two decades, we are in a special position on the Continent as pacesetters in democracy.
For this reason, it is hard to fathom that up to this day, there is no framework to operationalise the ROPAA which was enacted by this Honourable House as far back as 2006, and which subsequently, has denied so many Ghanaians in the diaspora their fundamental right to partake in the election process by voting from where they are.
This effectively means that those Ghanaians living abroad who are unable to return in time for elections every four years are disenfranchised by the system. This is grossly unconstitutional.
It is critical, for the sake of ensuring a full participation in the election process, that these challenges are addressed. All efforts are needed to ensure the operationalisation of the ROPAA and to further entrench our enviable position as pacesetters of democracy, especially, in the sub-region, and the continent as a whole.
Mr Speaker, the number of Ghanaians living in the diaspora has grown over the years that Ghanaians are represented in almost all countries in the world. Their contributions to the Ghanaian economy has witnessed exponential growth every year, and these contributions now form a large part of our economy.
Mr Speaker, article 45 of the 1992 Constitution and the Electoral Commission Act 1993 (Act 451) set out clearly the functions of the Electoral Commission which broad terms include implementing the ROPAA.
The Electoral Commission must be well resourced and encouraged to implement the ROPAA. The High Court (Human Rights Division.) presided over by His Lordship Justice Anthony K. Yeboah, in December last year, ruled and ordered the Electoral Commission to take steps to implement the ROPAA, 2006 within twelve (12) months.
The Electoral Commission must be seen to be working towards executing this very important court ruling that borders on the fundamental human rights to vote for our diasporean brothers and sisters.
Mr Speaker, currently, it is only Ghanaians studying abroad, and the staff of Ghana's Missions/Embassies who are allowed to be registered and vote in elections. This is worrisome to say the least.
The effect of this situation is that so many eligible Ghanaians are disenfranchised. These persons are rendered spectators and not citizens in the affairs of their country.
Mr Speaker, Act 699 was supposed to usher us into a new era in terms of ensuring that no eligible Ghanaian is disenfranchised by the electoral system in place. For this reason, so much effort was exerted towards amending the then Representation of the People Law, 1992 PNDCL 284 which made it impossible for eligible Ghanaians abroad to be registered to vote in elections.
Challenges toward Operationalising the ROPAA, Act 699
Mr Speaker, there are myriad obstacles impeding the smooth and efficient operationalisation of Act 699. The basic challenge is lack of funding for the EC to implement this law.
Mr Speaker, as 1 have already said there is no roadmap to find the modalities of implementation of the law. The Electoral Commission is yet to come up with clearly defined guidelines for stakeholders, including political parties. This has created unwarranted delays towards implementation.
Mr Speaker, a unique challenge which may arise from implementing Act 699 is the issue of monitoring of the voting process by the political parties. The current practice sees polling station agents being deployed by the respective political parties to monitor and protect a party's interest.
Taking into consideration the numerous challenges these parties face in resourcing polling station agents, it is without merit to wonder how political parties are going to equip their personnel to track the electoral process.
This, Mr Speaker, represents a great challenge which must be addressed in the face of the Electoral Commission and also to resource the political parties and other relevant stakeholders in putting measures in place to ensure a successful implementation of the ROPAA.

This, Mr Speaker, represents a novel challenge which must be addressed in the face of the reluctance or plain inability of the Electoral Commission to resource and support political parties and other relevant stakeholders in putting measures in place to ensure a successful implementation of the ROPAA.

In light of the above-mentioned challenges, Mr Speaker, I conclude with the following recommendations:
Mr Speaker 11:21 a.m.
Hon Member, thank you very much for this well-researched Statement.
Mr Speaker 11:21 a.m.
Hon Andah, I see you standing now and I thought I saw you on your feet earlier. Are you on your feet to make a contribution or -- ?
Mr Andah 11:21 a.m.
Mr Speaker, thank you. I tried to catch your eye when you were on item numbered 4 and it had to do with Question numbered 515. Mr Speaker, the farmers and representatives from the Bawjiase community were here yesterday to listen to the response on the situation of Ayensu Starch Factory, but the Question was moved to today.
Mr Speaker 11:21 a.m.
The Hon Member is the owner of the Question.
I remember very well that Hon Muntaka once made a point that constituents also follow-up to this Honourable House regarding Questions and this was something that I took good notice of; of course, this is the right of our citizens.
So, when they come here and something is not clear, then it is important that it should be clarified so that they could go away with some reasonable satisfaction and it is in the best interest of the House as a whole to show that we are manifestly seen to be doing what we are expected to do.
So it is useful to let them know that it is unfortunate that the Question could not be taken today and that it would be taken next Tuesday and so they should exercise patience in the full knowledge that their representative is following up with their interests. Thank you very much.?
Hon Members, any contributions to this well-made Statement?
Mr Samuel O. Ablakwa (NDC -- North Tongu) 11:21 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this well-researched Statement ably made by my Hon Colleague.
Mr Speaker, some 12 years ago, this House passed the Representation of the People's Amendment Act; Act 699. The essence of this law is to allow for Ghanaians living everywhere to be able to exercise their franchise in deciding on who leads us.
Mr Speaker, 12 years down the line, this law has not been implemented and the question then arises, why should Parliament make laws that would not or may never be implemented?
Mr Speaker, that is why I commend those public spirited citizens who went to the Human Rights Court and were indeed successful because the Human Rights Court held that it is a human right issue and Ghanaians living abroad should be allowed to vote.
Indeed, the Human Rights Court gave the Electoral Commission (EC) 12 months to present to the Human Rights Court, the modalities for the implementation of
Mr Speaker, as we all know, because of the challenges within the EC that led to
changes in the hierarchy of the Commission, the Commission could not present the roadmap.
So the latest we have followed on this matter is that the EC has gone to court to seek for extension because the original 12- month period ended in December 2018. Mr Speaker, the EC is in court to seek for more time but that matter has not been determined so I would not want to prejudice the outcome of that case.
Mr Speaker, but what we know now is that a nine-member committee has been set up, and at least, we see some progress being made on the part of the EC to finally implement the ROPAA.
Mr Speaker, some of us would have wished that in setting up that committee, at least, Parliament would have been represented on that committee that as it may, we stand in readiness to support the work of the committee. We know that the key political parties, especially those with representation in Parliament, are represented.
We believe that ROPAA is an important piece of legislation which ought to be implemented. However, there are clear logistical and implementation issues.
I recall Dr Afari Gyan in one of his responses to those who kept asking when ROPAA would be implemented, raised the issue of the logistical nightmare because we have Ghanaians living virtually everywhere in the world.
Mr Speaker, and the position of the law is very clear that ROPAA must be everywhere or nowhere because we cannot say that we would pursue Ghanaians probably in Europe and leave out Ghanaians in North America, Africa or Asia.
Mr Samuel O. Ablakwa (NDC -- North Tongu) 11:31 a.m.

Ghanaians living everywhere ought to be encouraged to exercise this right. As we know, there are more Ghanaians who have travelled to other countries in Africa than perhaps elsewhere.

The Hon Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs is here and he would bear me out that when we recently visited our High Commission in Nigeria, we were amazed to hear from our High Commissioner in Nigeria, H. E. Rasheed Bawa that there is estimated, at least, two million Ghanaians in Nigeria; we were astonished.

Assuming one million of these Ghanaians have attained the age of universal adult suffrage, how are we going to implement this? We must admit that it is an onerous task. Be that as it may, that must not be an excuse. Where there is a will, there is a way.

The law has been passed and all of us must come up with ideas on how we can ensure that this law is implemented, but it ought to be implemented in a credible, free and fair manner.

As a Parliament which approves budgets, are we ready to support the EC to ensure that the Government comes up with the needed resources? So far, fortunately, we have not heard the Executive complain about the lack of resources on this matter, although we know that, traditionally, we have received budgetary support for the EC from our international partners.

At least, the European Union (EU), Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and Department for

International Development (DFID) remain the main donor supporting agencies.

Mr Speaker, the principle is great. This House being a place for the representatives of the people must never be seen to be opposed to anything which opens up the democratic process to the people.

We represent the people and anything that brings them into the democratic process; regardless of wherever they are, must be supported.

I believe the opposition to Representative of People Amendment Act (ROPAA) in the past had to do not with the principle. The principle is laudable, but the opposition concerns the implementation.

Could you imagine a scenario where Ghanaians in Ghana voted with Party A leading while we wait for the votes from the Diaspora it came and changed the situation. Would we have sensitised people enough? How do we assure Ghanaians domiciled in Ghana that indeed the process was fair, credible and genuine?

Mr Speaker, I believe all of us must support the work of the nine-member committee. As Members of Parliament, we must send in memoranda, encourage the committee to come and meet us, and we must begin to find out from the Executive, especially now that we have become a middle-level income country.

Donor assistance in terms of election support is not as available as it was in the past. Is our Executive Arm of Government up to the task? Can they raise the resources and would Ghanaians accept any pilot project? We have heard some people suggest that perhaps we should start implementing it with a piloted programme. Would that be acceptable?

I support the General Secretary of my party who has said that when it comes to the implementation of ROPAA, it must be everywhere or nowhere. I believe that is the position of the law and that is the principle that we must all espouse and support.

Mr Speaker, I commend the Hon Member who made the Statement. These are important matters that must engage our attention as a country. We have less than two years to go to a crucial polls.

Let us avoid the situation where one of our neighbouring countries finds itself nowhere on the D-Day of elections, the National Electoral Commission had to postpone the election because they were not ready. We must avoid that and start preparing today.

This House scrutinises and approves the Budget and has the power to call on the Executives to make provision in the Budget, especially as very soon we would be considering the 2020 Budget and Financial Estimates of Government. We must make sure that we know.

This is because, as we speak at this point, we do not know how much the implementation of ROPAA could cost. We must know how much it would cost, and we must insist that our Government finds the money to implement it in a credible manner so that elections, as we have seen it plunging other countries into chaos , does not plunge the country into chaos, too.

We have held seven successful and peaceful elections. The eighth one, if we go to the polls with ROPAA, should not deviate from the impressive and sterling record for which the international communities look up to Ghana for.

We have time. Fortunately, the courts are on the side of the implementation of ROPAA, but the EC is asking for more time of about twelve more months to present a programme of action. So it tells you that it is not an easy task.

It is easier said than done, that we want ROPAA, and it should happen today. It cannot just happen. It has to take a very determined effort and open minds, creativity, using technology and finding the financial resources to make it happen.

Mr Speaker, with these words, I commend the Hon Member who made the Statement. I call on all of us to come up with the ideas and the suggestions that would ensure that ROPAA, which was passed some twelve years ago, sees the light of day.

I thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker 11:31 a.m.
Thank you, Hon Member.
Hon Members, those who feel they have something to say should get ready with what they have to say.
Dr Bernard Okoe Boye (NPP -- Ledzokuku) 11:31 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful for the opportunity.
After the passage of the ROPAA, the watchers of the practice of democracy were very excited that Ghana was on the path of democratic practice by making sure that all Ghanaians, no matter their location on this globe, participates in our national elections.
Unfortunately, however, Mr Speaker, twelve years down the line, ROPAA has not seen the light of day and Ghanaians abroad still do not participate in our elections.
Dr Bernard Okoe Boye (NPP -- Ledzokuku) 11:41 a.m.
Mr Speaker, as a country, we managed
to get the legislation that would make voters resident outside the country to participate in our elections. The capacity of the EC has also never been in doubt.
What obviously was lacking was the readiness of the EC to start the process that would see to the implementation of
Mr Speaker, immediately, you appreciate the history and how ROPAA came into being, you might appreciate why the EC did not even start the process of trying to see how to get ROPAA to come to pass.
From 2008 to 2016, the managers of the economy after ROPAA was passed argued out that they really did not believe that ROPAA was possible. I am happy that today, we have the EC taking steps to see to the implementation of ROPAA.
Mr Speaker, in 2016, Ghana had 8.7 billion worth of inflows or remittances from Ghanaians abroad, according to the Bank of Ghana statistics. The total revenue collected by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) was 183 million.
The quantum tells us of the contribution that Ghanaians abroad put in when it comes to the sustenance of our economy and the maintenance of our macro-economy fundamentals.

Mr Speaker, according to the World Bank migration and development brief, US$ 2.2 billion worth of remittances came into this country in 2017, second only to Nigeria which had US$ 21.9 billion worth of inflows.

Beyond finance or cash, Ghanaians abroad contribute enormously when it comes to intellectual resources in building our economy, medicine and other sectors of the economy.

The worth of their contribution means that they are participating when it comes to determining who leads this country and it is no more an option to be considered, but an obligation to be fulfilled.

I have heard some of the arguments that come out strongly anytime ROPAA comes up. People tell us, either it happens everywhere, or it should never come to pass.

As we speak today, out of all the elections that we have had, Ghanaians outside this country who worked in the Missions, those who are serving military officers and those on government scholarships actually participate in our elections, so the argument that it should be everywhere or nowhere is stillborn. It is dead before arrival.

Mr Speaker, if one goes to Russia, Dubai, or anywhere that we have our missions, they all participate in the elections. But what is intriguing is that a Ghanaian studying in Germany who is paying his or her own fees is unable to participate in the elections, but the one on government scholarship is able to go to the Missions and cast his or her vote. This is fact. It is not trickery or an invention; it is happening already.

Mr Speaker, however, what is very important to note is that Ghanaians in Kosomokaya -- I know a particular Ghanaian who always refers to Kosomo- Kosomokaya when it comes to ROPAA, that those in Kosomokaya must vote -- Ghanaians in Kosomokaya now, countries where we do not have Missions, are unable to participate in the process.

Why do we allow those who live in countries with Missions to vote when those in countries without Missions are not allowed to vote?

This is happening already, and the reason is simple. It happens because a country only obliges to the laws that can be fulfilled based on resources that are available.

Same argument was posed for Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE). A Ghanaian went to the court and said that, the State was breaking the law by not paying for every student, and the Supreme Court argued that you could only pay with the amount that you had, and threw out the case. The same could be applied to this.

Mr Speaker, let me also talk about cost. People have argued that it might be very expensive. If the EC, subsequent to the passage of this law, had started a process to even look at how to implement the law, I do not think that Ghanaians or most watchers of democracy would be apprehensive about the behaviour of the


No initiatives or steps were taken to even start the process of possibly implementing this law, and we cannot use the possible difficulties in the future to truncate even the beginning. That is what we have witnessed over the past years.

So Mr Speaker, the refreshing news is that before the law that would guide the elections is finally applied, it would come to this Honourable House. Well-meaning stakeholders would get to see it, and if it appears obviously not to be applicable or possible, reason, logic and law I believe would be applied.

I believe the EC is on the right path. They asked for more time, not because they were unwilling, especially with the current Leadership, but because in the past a lot of inertia had been exhibited.

Now they are in motion and I believe all of us must support them to make sure that this particular ROPAA becomes implementable.

Mr Speaker, I would end with a quote from Pericles, born 495 years before the birth of Christ (495 BC), which says:

“Just because you do not take an interest in politics does not mean politics will not take an interest in you.”

Those who live abroad know that the outcome of our elections would have an impact on their lives, and that is why they are interested and are keen on voting.

Mr Speaker, I am most grateful for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker 11:41 a.m.
Hon Patrick Boamah?
Mr Patrick Boamah 11:41 a.m.
Mr Speaker, most of my comments or submissions have been made.
Mr Speaker 11:41 a.m.
Very well, Leadership.
Mr Haruna Iddrisu (NDC-- Tamale South) 11:41 a.m.
Mr Speaker, let me thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by our Hon Colleague and to share some of his recommendations, and to disagree with some of them as well.
With your kind permission, article 42 provides that;
“Every citizen of Ghana of eighteen years of age or above and of sound
Mr Haruna Iddrisu (NDC-- Tamale South) 11:41 a.m.
mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered as a voter for the purposes of public elections and referenda”.
Mr Speaker, this provision creates a constitutional obligation. I agree with the Hon Member who made the Statement and Hon Samuel Ablakwa, that every Ghanaian is entitled to the full benefits of all the rights guaranteed under the 1992 Constitution. Therefore every Ghanaian is entitled to the benefits of the Constitution, with the right to vote as defined by article 42.
Mr Speaker, however, there are practical difficulties. We may today say they do not matter, but they would matter at the cost of our democratic journey and our democratic evolution. I intend to raise some of those questions even as I agree with him.
Mr Speaker, you are an academic historian yourself. There was a popular statement in the United States (US) in the 1700s which states that there is no taxation without representation. Who are those Ghanaians? I have heard Hon Dr Boye; as brilliantly as he submitted, he cannot confuse remittances to be the same as taxation. They are not the same.
I am quoting the US: ‘‘No representation without taxation''. Ghanaians abroad contribute by way of remittances. Do they contribute by way of the principle of taxation?
Mr Speaker, in which elections are they going to participate? Would it be presidential only, or presidential and parliamentary? I raise a question.
It means that when the electoral boundaries are declared, we must wait to count the votes of additional electoral boundaries of Ghanaians from Okaikoi
South or Suame in their jurisdictions abroad. We need to determine it.
Mr Speaker, I say so, invoking that human rights are indivisible, and for those who heard our Hon Colleague -- Mr Speaker, again, I am encouraged that you are a lawyer yourself. When you go to the remits of the 1992 Constitution, there are two types of rights; justiciable and non-justiciable rights.
For us, the Supreme Court has ruled, because this Parliament passed a legislation in 2006. They are obliged to proceed.

Mr Speaker, my faith in the EC is waning; and it is waning because I sit in the Special Budget Committee with the Hon Majority Leader. For 2018, the Hon Member who made the Statement mentioned Funding Challenges -- and I am quoting him -- the EC in 2018 did not have funding challenges.

Government approved GH¢373 million for them and they committed only GH¢51 million. How can the Hon Member then cry that the EC had funding challenges when they were given GH¢373 million and they could not spend it? I have the report of the EC.
Mr Speaker 11:51 a.m.
Hon Members, order!
Mr Iddrisu 11:51 a.m.
Mr Speaker, he mentioned funding challenges and I am reporting that they do not have that. That is why I said that the Chairperson of the EC must improve upon her game.
Mr Speaker, the data system of the EC today cannot even conduct District Assembly Elections. We have heard the Chairperson talk about a new register. Mr Speaker, I quoted article 42 of the 1992 Constitution for a purpose. I have heard people talk about rights. We must enforce them.
Today, a young Ghanaian would turn 18 years. Has that Ghanaian been registered? Has he been given the opportunity to register to participate in the election? We cannot hold it against that citizen for acquiescence.
Mr Speaker, we should have an EC which makes it mandatory that on a daily basis, Ghanaians can walk to them when they attain 18 years to register for the purpose of consummating their legitimate constitutional rights under article 42 of the Constitution. That is not the case.
Mr Speaker, today, in South Korea, they have moved beyond the thumb and they are looking at eyelashes to improve technology. In Ghana, we are still doing thumb printing and we think that is how to get biodata. [Interruption.] The EC must open itself up.
Mr Speaker, I have mentioned data. Their data centre is obsolete. For seven years, it has not been fixed and we may have crisis if the data system breaks down. I have information that even the maintenance contract of the data system has been given to a different contractor.
Mr Speaker, in information technology, one cannot build a system and bring in a different person to maintain it. That is incongruous and that itself creates conflict.
Mr Speaker, I have heard the Chairperson of the EC talk about a new register. She should in earnest, begin the process of dedicating to this country an improved credible voter register.
Mr Speaker, the other day, the Hon Majority Leader shared a very important issue with me after a meeting with the Commission.
We should observe those young Ghanaians who are not 18 years but run to the queues and say that they are. We should observe them, they will get to 60 years very early and we would retire them. They may think that today they are smuggling and taking advantage of age to perpetrate fraud in this country.
We would get them because if they are not 18 and they say they are, when they are not 60, we would say they are. There are those who would come seeking to change their birth date and birth certificates.
Mr Speaker, apart from the data system, I have the EC's outlook for 2019. There is nowhere in the outlook that they even talked about ROPAA and its implementation when they appeared before the Special Budgets Committee and that is serious. There is a ruling, not just the ruling of the Supreme Court.
Mr Speaker, in the Medium Term Development Framework that the President laid before this House, there is some provision for ROPAA. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member who made the Statement mentioned donor funding.
In this age of Ghana Beyond Aid, we are still holding a calabash and asking donors that they should come and finance our elections. We are a middle income country and therefore we must live Ghana Beyond Aid. We must fund our own elections.
Mr Iddrisu 11:51 a.m.
Mr Speaker, the principle that every
Ghanaian has the right to register to vote and be voted for is constitutional. We should respect it.
I would not go to the matter of contempt but the EC needs to fix their data system and we need to see them working in earnest, implementing the anticipated District Assembly elections because some matters of referendum, such as our constitutional amendment to article 55, would accompany that process.
Mr Speaker, I am not too satisfied with their performance so far. They had a budget of GH¢373 million and they spent only GH¢51 million. They appeared before Parliament's Special Budget Committee and in their outlook for 2019, no mention was made of ROPAA only for them to be reminded by a court and be given a limited mandate.
Mr Speaker, it would naturally be said by experts on elections that elections must be free, fair and credible. Each of them has a meaning. When we say it must be free, it must be free from intimidation and violence and it must be credible in terms of its acceptance.
Mr Speaker, we should never engage in any journey which would create doubts on the outcome of the credibility of any elections in Ghana. Ghana is reaping and would continue to reap the dividends of our democratic practice.
Mr Speaker, in Africa, we have become the pride of many and there is nothing more beautiful and acceptable, given our own historical antecedents, to say that we have accepted democracy even with all its wrongs preferred to those authoritarian regimes where rights are not respected but trampled upon.
We do not want any tyranny again in this country. Mr Speaker, as I speak freely, I would want it to be so forever and for generations to come.
Mr Speaker, the EC must ensure that it is engaged in actions that would build public confidence in the electoral process. We would call for reforms and improvement in how final election results are declared. The world is going digital and we all can improve it.
Mr Speaker, I commend the Hon Member who made the Statement, but as I said, I disagree with him when he said that we should hold a calabash for donors to come and support our elections when only yesterday, the President received his charter on Ghana Beyond Aid. We must demonstrate that we can finance our elections.
The Chairperson of the EC and her two deputies must work together to begin in earnest, the replacement of the data centre biometric verification devices and biometric voter registration kits. We need the EC to secure them in order to assure us.
Mr Speaker, I can speak with certainty that I cannot see how the District Assembly Elections would be conducted with a new voter register. We are in February and only next week, it would be March and the elections are in September.
Today, we have just seen a Bill on an amendment to the Constitution so they should build their data centre, allow Ghanaians who attain 18 years to freely register across the country in their districts and regional offices and they must make budgetary allocations.
Mr Speaker, this year, the Committee on Special Budget, together with the Ministry of Finance, gave them GH¢700
million. What we need is for the Ministry of Finance to commit and release the money to them timeously and not to come and complain about lack of funding. This year, they asked for GH¢767 million and it has been approved by this Parliament for them.
Mr Speaker, I thank the Hon Member who made the Statement but we should not allow the inherent and inevitable practical challenges to ROPAA's implementation to become a mark on the credibility and outcome of our presidential and parliamentary elections.

Mr Speaker, in conclusion, the notion that Ghanaians abroad do not vote is not true. They do vote. Ghanaian citizens working with United Nation's (UN) agencies, our embassies and many other allied institutions exercise their rights to vote.

If we can open a polling station everywhere, we should proceed and do so because wherever a Ghanaian is, as the Hon Ablakwa said, he is entitled to this right. We cannot limit it to Europe or America and deny those in Africa or Azerbaijan.

Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Majority Leader (Mr Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) (MP) 12:01 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I also rise to lend my voice to the Statement made
by my Hon Colleague, the Hon Member for Mfantseman.
Mr Speaker, I believe it is a timely reminder of where we are long after we passed ROPAA.
Mr Speaker, as the Hon Minority Leader has indicated, the opportunity in that Act was afforded every citizen of Ghana of 18 years or above, and of sound mind to vote.
Mr Speaker, there are three qualifications. First, before a person is afforded the right to vote, he must be a citizen of Ghana. The second is that he must be 18 years of age or above, and the third is that, the person must be of sound mind.

Mr Speaker, to prosecute the process of voting, one must necessarily first be registered for purposes of the public elections and referendum. So registration is part of the process of securing the right to vote. Without that one cannot activate that right. So registration is a necessary part.

Today, we are listening to latter day saints. I recollect that just before the passage of the Bill, the then Minority Leader, who is the current Second Deputy Speaker, the then Majority Leader and myself, were in the United Kingdom together.

We thought of how upon coming back to Ghana, we would come together to see how to pass this Bill and the processes we needed to engage in as a collective.
Majority Leader (Mr Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) (MP) 12:11 p.m.
Mr Speaker, before we could come back
to Ghana, some people, purporting to be representing the then Hon Minority Leader held a press conference in his absence. The spokesman at the time is the current Hon Minority Leader -- [Laughter] -- who disagreed that we should have the representation of the People's Amendment Bill at the time processed.
He was the one who led that cause. If today he opposes it he should say so and let Ghanaians hear that he opposes it. [Laughter.] Today, we want him on record. He says he likes it now. [Laughter.]
Unfortunately, when we passed the Bill, we could not as a House provide a date for the commencement of that Act. The reason is simply predicated on the imperative of article 46 of the Constitution which provides and with your indulgence, I read:
“Except as provided in this Constitution or in any other law not inconsistent with this Constitution, in the performance of its functions, the Electoral Commission, shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority.”
Mr Speaker, when we crafted the Bill in executing that Act, Parliament could not set a time table for the EC. That is why we do not allow that, and we trusted the goodwill of the EC soon after passage to initiate the relevant process.
Unfortunately, after the passage, the EC at the time did not show any determination to implement that Act. That is the tragedy of our times.
Parliament cannot be blamed because we passed the law and the President
assented to it. The Electoral Commission at that time ought to have started the processes to implement that Act but there was no inclination on their part to do that.
Mr Speaker, in the sub region, there are countries that indulge in that. One could cite the cases of Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal. They allow their citizens living outside their respective countries to vote, except that they restrict the voting to Presidential Elections and not Parliamentary Elections.
What lessons could we learn from them? Could we begin with that? People said that rights are indivisible but I do not know of that. If we talk about rights that we should avail citizens, there are rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution.
The Constitution guarantees spousal rights. Immediately after the coming into force of this Constitution, what have we done about that? Spousal rights -- [Laughter.] It has been here for years.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Second Deputy Speaker knows that I have been interested in the spousal rights and even women's rights eternally. The distinction is provided by the Constitution.
There are other rights. Spousal rights is in article 22 (2), and the right to equal educational opportunities and facilities is in article 25 (1). Do we have equal opportunities for every citizen and every Ghanaian child in this country? Why are people not talking about that?
Mr Speaker, why are people not talking about the rights of the disabled, the right to work, good health and housing,? We have been bemoaning what may befall us if we are not circumspect in the implementation; and I agree.
The Hon Minority Leader quoted me rightly when I said that if we have the right mechanism, I would not worry if a 15-year old pretended to be 18 years to go and vote.
Let the system recognise the person and they would then have to retire at 57 years. That is the theoretical age. Let us not worry about them because if we have the system to trace and track those people --
That is why in Parliament, we have people coming to work and when the period for them to retire is around the corner, they would then come and tell you that their ages were wrongfully registered, and in reality, they are 55 years old. When the person is 60 years old, they would tell you that they are 55 years old. Yet they voted at maybe 12 years, purporting to be 18 years.
Let us trace and track them and there would be no motivation for anybody to engage in that. If people get to know that there would be no motivation for them because they would then know that they would be deprived of their other rights when they grow up.
The politician might want to do that because they want their votes to get into power but would cause them an early exit from the public system.
So let us find a better way of doing this and I think that if we are able to get our bearings right, put our acts together and get this matter relating to the National Identity Card right, there would be that automaticity because it would be known when one attains 18 years.
I was in the United Kingdom (UK) with a niece of mine and the day she turned 18,
she received letters from the political parties in the UK, congratulating her on attaining 18 years and urging her to join one of the parties on that same day. This is because they know when one turns 18.

Mr Speaker, having said that, there are certain concerns -- the Hon Minority Leader raised some of them, that the EC should be encouraged while preparing towards that end to get things right.

The Hon Minority Leader alluded to the weakness of the data centre now. Mr Speaker, I am afraid for the stability of that data centre. If care is not taken, in the next few months, we might lose it and if it is lost, I shudder to think of the consequences. That is number one.

As I speak today, we do not know whether there would be any new registration. If there would be a new registration, the right equipment must be procured -- the Biometric Verification Devices ( BVDs) and the BVIs.

No such thing has been done by the EC as of now and yet it requires, at least, six months to manufacture these equipment once the order is placed. When they do come, we must be able to test them and allow some limited operation of these facilities by the staff of the EC.

Mr Speaker, at least, nine months must be required and as of yet, there is no procurement. So what would happen to the district level election? They should hold that latest by September, but as things stand now, it may be difficult to hold the district level election and that is the seriousness of it.

It should not go into 2020. The reason is that the effect of the national purse would be too huge to conduct the district level elections and the presidential and parliamentary elections.
Mr Speaker 12:11 p.m.
Thank you very much, Hon Majority Leader.
Hon Members, that brings us to the end of Statement time.
At the commencement of Public Business we would take the Order Paper Addendum . Presentation and First Reading of Bills -- Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice?
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:11 p.m.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Minister for Justice is not in the Chamber.
The Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice has been summoned by the President to a meeting and she thought that by 10.30 a.m. she should be able to be with us, but unfortunately, the meeting has not ended so she sent the Hon Deputy Minister, our own Hon Kpemka, to hold the fort for her.
So he may do the Presentation and First Reading of the Bill to the House on behalf of the Hon Minister.
Mr Speaker 12:11 p.m.
Hon Deputy Attorney- General and Minister for Justice, the Hon Minority Leader has no objection, so please proceed.

Mr Speaker 12:11 p.m.
Item listed 6 -- Hon Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:11 p.m.
Mr Speaker, we may stand that one down for the time being and deal with item numbered 9.
Mr Speaker 12:11 p.m.
What about items numbered 7 and 8? Are they not ready?
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:11 p.m.
Mr Speaker, they would be taken soon after we have finished with item numbered 9.
Mr Speaker 12:11 p.m.
Hon Members, item numbered 9 -- Procedural Motion.
Hon Chairman of the Committee?
MOTIONS 12:11 p.m.

Chairman of the Committee (Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah) 12:11 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 80(1) which require that no Motion shall be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between
the date on which notice of the Motion is given and the date on which the Motion is moved, the Motion for the adoption of the Report of the Finance Committee on the Loan Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the African Development Bank for an amount of ten million units of Account (UA10.00 million) [equivalent to US$14.00 million] to finance the Ghana Incentive- Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (GIRSALP) project may be moved today.
Mr Alex Adomako-Mensah 12:11 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
Question put and Motion agreed to.
Mr Speaker 12:21 p.m.
Hon Chairman of the Committee, item listed as number 10.
Finance Committee Report on the Ghana Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing
System for Agricultural Lending
Chairman of the Committee (Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah) 12:21 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this Honourable House adopts the Report of the Finance Committee on the Loan Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the African Development Bank for an amount of ten million units of account (UA10.00 million) [equivalent of US$14.00 million] to finance the Ghana Incentive- Based Risk-Sharing for Agricultural Lending (GIRSALP) Project.
Mr Speaker, in so doing, I present your Committee's Report.
The request for approval of the Loan Agreement between the Government of Ghana and the African Development Bank
  • [DR ASSIBEY-YEBOAH (AfDB) for an amount of ten million Units of Accounts (UA 10.00 Million) (Equivalent to US$ 14.00 million) to finance the Ghana Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System For Agricultural Lending (GIRSAL) Project was presented to the House on Tuesday, 5th February, 2019, in accordance with article 181 of the 1992 Constitution. Mr Speaker referred the Agreement to the Finance Committee for consideration and report in accordance with Orders 169 of the Standing Orders of the House. The Committee was assisted in its deliberations by a Deputy Minister for Finance, Mrs Abena Osei Asare, and officials from the Ministry of Finance and Bank of Ghana. Background Agricultural credit plays an important role in agricultural development. Therefore facilitation of access to credit can raise productive investment as access to credit plays a crucial role in the elimination of farmer's financial constraints to invest in farm activities, increasing productivity and improving technologies. Generally, credit accessibility is important for improvement of quality and quantity of farm products, thereby increasing farmer's income and reducing rural-urban migration. Due to this, Government has put in place a number of measures to help improve access to credit. In spite of all the interventions by government, access to finance still remains a challenge to the Agricultural sector. This is mainly due to the perceived risks associated with the sector by many financial institutions. Ironically, agricultural lending rates in Ghana are frequently in double digits, while less than six per cent of total bank lending goes to the sector that accounts for forty-five (45) per cent of all formal and informal employments. In order to address these perceived risks, Government is creating and enabling the environment to support the financing and de-risking of the agriculture value chain system in Ghana. This will be done through the Ghana Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (GIRSAL) Project. The GIRSAL Project is an intervention that has been designed within the context of the country's ongoing agricultural transformation to help accelerate financing and interconnectedness of the agricultural sector by ensuring that key operators within the sector are functioning at optimal levels and contributing significantly towards export growth and import substitution. The proposed project, which is structured to support agriculture across the country, seeks to de-risk the Agricultural sector as well as promote incentives and enablers in agricultural financing. Under the project, the GIRSAL Secretariat would be established as a Limited Liability Company registered in Ghana by the Registrar General's Department. It will operate independently at Bank of Ghana, and other Agencies and Institutions of the Government of Ghana. Its structural and operational designs were determined after close collaboration with various stakeholders including farmers groups, Financial Institutions (FIs), Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), other agribusiness ecosystem participants, development partners and financial service providers. The GIRSAL Project will implement a Credit Guarantee Risk Sharing facility. GIRSAL will be jointly regulated by the Bank of Ghana and the National Insurance Commission. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) would be in charge of the day-to-day operation of GIRSAL, supported by the Chief Operation Officer (COO) and Credit Risk Officer (CRO). The various functional units including Treasury, Financial Control, and Administration would report to the CRO whilst Agriculture Insurance, Technical Assistance, Marketing and Digital Financial Services report to the Chief Operating Officer. GIRSAL would be governed by a Board of Directors that would be responsible for providing overall policy guidance to the entity whose operational guidelines would be based mainly on the principles outlined in the Basel Guidelines on Corporate Governance. The core policies driving this project are the President's Coordinated Programme of Economic and Social Development Policies (CPESDP), the Food and Agricultural Sector Development Policy (FASDEP) and Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) Campaign. The central theme of these policies are to reposition agriculture as the driving force for economic growth and development. GIRSAL, when established, would be an autonomous, specilised financial institution focused on enabling the acceleration of access to risk-adjusted credit to the Agricultural Sector in Ghana. In order to execute this project, a total amount of two hundred million Ghana cedis (GH$250 Million) is to be sourced from the Bank of Ghana and (the African Development Fund (ADF) which would be used as seed money. ADF's contribution is in the form of a loan amounting to ten million Units of Account (UA10.00 million)(equivalent to US$14 million). It is this request that is before Parliament for approval. Project Objective The objective of the Project is to reduce the perceived risks of agricultural financing and to crowd in private finance to support smallholder farmers across the country. This would be done through the de-risking of the Agricultural Sector, promoting incentives and enablers of agriculture financing, and management of the project. Project Components The objectives of the project are expected to be achieved through the implementation of the three complementary components. Component 1: De-risking the Agricultural Sector This component is sub-divided into three sub components, namely; Credit Guarantee Scheme: This would entail the provision of guarantees to participating commercial banks and other financial institutions on individual or portfolio basis. The expected level of risk exposure that would be covered will depend on the particular activity and the value involved, but it could be up to 80 per cent of the guarantee value.
    Mr Alex Adomako-Mensah (NDC -- Sekyere Afram Plains) 12:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise
    to second the Motion and in doing so, I would like to make a few comments.
    Mr Speaker, GIRSAL is an initiative, which provides incentives to financial institutions to grant loans to those in the agricultural sector, it often tends to be a risky sector by some banks.
    Only six per cent of the total bank lending goes to the sector. It is good that the Government is creating an enabling environment to support the financing and de-risking of the agricultural value chain system in Ghana.
    Mr Speaker, the financing support programme is hoped to empower farmers economically and to be able to invest in the farming businesses while also making them competitive both locally and abroad.
    Mr Speaker, the farmers face difficulties in accessing loans from the banks due to several factors.
    Mr Speaker, the objective of the project is very important. It is to reduce the perceived risk of agricultural financing. Also, it would help in promoting incentives and enable agricultural financing and management projects to improve.
    Mr Speaker, looking at the component 1, the current guarantee is very encouraging. The technical assistance is where my problem is -- Building of the capacity of the banks. I think that it should be building the capacity of the farmers and then value chain actors so that they could manage the market and financial activities rather than to support the banks, which are well-established.
    Mr Speaker, it would be better if the Government can establish insurance policies for the farmers themselves.
    Mr Speaker, when we come to component two, Digital Finance Platform, this would create an opportunity for the farmers through information service, market link, financial service and essential delivery.
    Mr Speaker, giving the credit alone to the farmers is not enough. This is because in any event, where the farmers do not get the market for their products and would be difficult for them to pay back the credit.
    Mr Speaker, this means that the farmers would have to take some insurance cover to provide some form of security against unexpected occurrences.
    Mr Speaker, for the project to succeed, we also need to reduce the risk for the project implementers. The loans would be granted on the lines of value chain.
    Mr Speaker, another thing that we need to look at is that the breakdown of the fund needs to be given so that we know how much we are spending in one year and who the beneficiaries are. That would give us the actual truth, at the end of five years, about the number of beneficiaries and how much the Government has spent.

    Mr Speaker, my problem is, we have a “Ghana Beyond Aid” and we are looking for GH¢50 million. Why should we go and borrow GH¢50 million while the Bank of

    Ghana could provide this and the Ministry of Finance could support it? So I think that in all these, we are paying interests and commitment fees.

    Mr Speaker, this is what I think. We need to reduce the cost so that Ghana would stand tall in every sector.

    Mr Speaker, with these few words, I second the Motion.

    Question proposed.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:25 p.m.
    I want an agricultural person to speak.
    Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh (NPP -- Nsawam Adoagyiri) 12:31 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to support the Motion and also say these few words.
    Mr Speaker, first of all, right from independence, there had been consistent efforts towards reducing risks associated with the agricultural sector.
    Let me say that this appears to be one of the clear-cut attempts that all of us need to support.
    Mr Speaker, I also conceive that there have been a number of relevant actions taken in this direction. One can recall the Afridan Growth and Opportunity Act (AGUA), the first compact of the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) and many others.
    Mr Speaker, in the Sixth Parliament, I recalled vividly that I made a Statement calling for a pilot insurance as an agricultural index insurance.
    One of the motivations had been to reduce the risks associated with the agricultural sector because, take it or leave
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:31 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Minority Leader?
    Minority Leader (Mr Haruna Iddrisu) 12:31 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I rise to make a few remarks to the Motion that has been ably moved by the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee.
    Mr Speaker, I would first of all refer to him as the Hon Chairman of the Committee and refer to his headnote in the Report. I see the word: “GIRSAL”. I am holding the Budget Statement for 2018, and similarly, I have asked for that of 2019 and 2017.
    In all the references that the Hon Minister for Finance has appeared before this House, it is put as “GIRSIL”, spelt with the letters “IL”, and not “AL”. I would therefore want to know which of the records is right?
    Mr Speaker, this is because earmarked funds of GH¢ 400 million of realignment of statutory funds was to be allocated to this institution. That is my first observation. So I would want to know if the word is “GIRSIL” or “GIRSAL”. Whichever it is, the Hon Chairman of the Committee should be able to respond to it.
    Mr Speaker, my second observation is that I would want to know the creation called “GIRSAL”. It is not a legal entity. When was it created? We are told that it has a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and we are allocating money -- I would refer you to the Committee's Report, page three, paragraph two.
    With your permission, it says: “GIRSAL will be jointly regulated by Bank of Ghana and the National Insurance Commission”. Under what authority is the Bank of Ghana and the National Insurance Commission regulating an entity, which itself is not a creation of the law? It is not known to us.
    They just pick words, put them together and say “financing incentive and risk” -- GIRSAL is not a legal creation, and we are encouraging the Ministry of Finance that if they feel strongly about the support to farmers, they should come to this House and create GIRSAL.
    They should create it by law, so that when we are dedicating public funds to it, we would be justified.
    Mr Speaker, I have difficulty because GIRSIL was mentioned, as I said, in the 2018 Budget. If we would remember, I raised preliminary issues on it, and we would follow through.
    So if they say that it has a Chief Executive, who is in charge of GIRSAL, supported by a Chief Operating Officer, then these are all administrative, and US$14 million is being borrowed, per the terms that we see on page five. I have no difficulty, because the terms are generally very friendly and generous.
    Mr Speaker, however, when in paragraph 5.1 we say, and with your permission I quote:
    “The Committee observed that when implemented, the Project would help reduce effective interest rates for agribusiness loans attached to GIRSAL credit guarantee scheme; reduce loan processing time; improve loan tenor terms and produce multiplier effects for crowding-in commercial lending into agriculture, among other impacts.”
    Mr Speaker, what is the value in real numbers? They just play with words that they would reduce loan processing time. Which loan processing time are they going to reduce? In this Report, the same Bank of Ghana that a few days ago could not find money for Ghanaian indigenous banks can now find GH¢200 million for this purpose?
    The Bank of Ghana, a few days ago, with our eminent banking crises, could not raise GH¢200 million, but today, they can dedicate a whopping amount of GH¢ 200 million to supervising indigenous banks collapsing for want of capital, and for want of capacity.
    Mr Speaker, I would refer you to the Committee's Report, in particular, paragraph 5.2. It says that the total funding required for the project -- It says Bank of Ghana is contributing GH¢ 200 million, which when converted to the United States dollars, is US$39 million or approximately US$38.5 million.
    When we come to the ending paragraph, in paragraph 5.3, it says that a residual percentage of 0.064 of the loan amounting to approximately US$100,000 -- and to quote the Hon Chairman of the Committee -- he says that is what they would want to use to promote the incentives and risks, so where is the commitment?
    Minority Leader (Mr Haruna Iddrisu) 12:31 p.m.
    They come here and tell us that all the money is going for this purpose. When they mentioned the Component One and Component Two -- to quote their words, in Component Two, they said; “promote incentives”, and they joined it with those their words of risk; so they should let the money go where it is needed.
    If they have US$39 million and just GH¢ 100 thousand is what is going to what we are appraising that it is farmer's risk --
    Mr Speaker, my final comment is, what has happened to the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), when we are being told today that less than six per cent of Government financing goes to agriculture?
    What was the essence of establishing the Agricultural Development Bank? What was the essence of establishing the National Investment Bank? Where are all those banks; today that we would have to rely on insurance risk guarantee, when we have financial institutions that we ourselves established, dedicated to supporting farmers?
    They must do well to support indigenous Ghanaian businesses in the agricultural sector.

    It is expanding exports. The way we are looking at it -- Monetary policy and fiscal policy is not the way to go. The only way the cedi can be stronger is for our

    export volumes to increase and expand, and for us to reduce our import volume -- nothing more.

    Mr Speaker, it should not be that every day and every other year, we recycle the issues and come back and say that it would do well or it would not do well.

    So generally, anything with agriculture is worth supporting, but we should make sure that the money goes into risk sharing and next time, they should come with us, for us to know the farmer groups that they are anticipating they should benefit from it.

    It should not just be here in Accra; the real good farmers across the country may not even be aware of this to access the support.

    Mr Speaker, this would be my comments on this Motion.
    Mr Ameyaw-Cheremeh 12:41 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, leadership defers to Hon Kwame Asafu- Adjei, the Hon Chairman for the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs.
    Mr Kwame Asafu-Adjei (NPP — Nsuta/Kwamang/Beposo) 12:41 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we should all provide the necessary support to any programme that is tailored towards the development of agriculture so that agriculture would be transformed from a small scale holder to medium and large scale holders in Ghana.
    Mr Speaker, access to credit has been a problem over the years, and with this Facility, I believe both the small holder and big time farmers would be in the position to purchase or procure new inputs such as fertilizer, improved seeds and also build their own storage facilities.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:41 p.m.
    Hon Member, this Motion is about the loan and so let us speak to the loan.
    Mr Asafu-Adjei 12:41 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I take your advice on that. But I am saying that after the loan, where do we go? — [Interruption.]
    Mr Speaker, I am comfortable with this facility and I hope in future, we would get more moneys to support the agricultural sector.

    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:41 p.m.
    Now shall we take item numbered 11?
    Ms Safo 12:41 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, permission is being sought for the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance to move the Resolution on behalf of the Hon Minister for Finance who -- Hon Avedzi knows that he is engaged at this time in matters that are of interest to all of us.
    Mr Avedzi 12:41 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Majority Leader just mentioned my name that I am aware that the Hon Minister is engaged in matters that concern all of us. For the records, I do not know anything about it.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:41 p.m.
    Very well.

    So are you opposed to the Hon Deputy Minister — You are not opposed to it — ?

    Ms Safo — rose --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:41 p.m.
    Hon Deputy Majority Leader, when we finish with the Resolution, we would come back to that —
    Ms Safo 12:41 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, Hon Avedzi probably has forgotten. But he is sitting next to the Hon Minority Leader and he can easily confirm. He is very much aware of the issues that I am talking about. So I know the application would be granted for the Hon Deputy Minister to move the Resolution.
    Mr Iddrisu 12:41 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I can appreciate what the Hon Deputy Majority Leader is saying. Unless I am being assured that the Hon Minister is looking at matters affecting Research Assistants and other matters affecting the institution of Parliament.
    RESOLUTIONS 12:41 p.m.

    Minister for Finance) 12:41 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to move that,
    WHEREAS by the provisions of article 181 of the Constitution afed Sections 55 and 56 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921), the terms and conditions of all government borrowings shall be laid before Parliament and shall not come into operation unless the terms and conditions are approved by
    a resolution of Parliament in accordance with article 181 of the Constitution;
    PURSUANT to the provisions of the said article 181 of the Constitution and Sections 55 and 56 of the Public Financial Management Act of 2016 (Act 921), at the request of the Government of the Republic of Ghana acting through the Minister responsible for Finance, there has been laid before Parliament a Loan Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the African Development Bank for an amount of ten million Units of Account (UA10.00 million) equivalent to US$14.00 million] to finance the Ghana Incentive- Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (G1RSALP) Project.

    HEREBY RESOLVES AS 12:41 p.m.

    Dr Assibey-Yeboah 12:41 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed
    Resolved accordingly.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:41 p.m.
    Item numbered 12 -- or?
    Ms Safo 12:41 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we can take item numbered 7 — The Motion by the Hon Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee on page 3 of the Order Paper.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:41 p.m.
    Very well, Hon Deputy Minority Leader?
    MOTIONS 12:51 p.m.

    Chairman of the Committee (Mr James K. Avedzi) 12:51 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I hope that we would bring this matter to an end today. Just to refer you to the original Motion which was moved in January, 2018 and we would want to do some amendments from page 13 up to page 15 of the original Report.
    Mr Speaker, we are amending paragraph 9.1 and 10.1 and paragraphs 11 and 12, and we would substitute it with the new recommendation on pages 14, 15 and 16 of the new Report.
    So to be specific, paragraph 9.1, the amendment proposed in that paragraph is to give time limits for the suspension period. In the original Recommendations, there was no time limit. But we have introduced “two years”.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:51 p.m.
    Hon Members, with the amendments proposed, we can continue with the debate on the Report which we started earlier.
    Yes, Hon Member for Ningo- Prampram?
    Mr Samuel Nartey George (NDC -- Ningo-Prampram) 12:51 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I would like to contribute to the Motion on your Committee's Report on the Performance Audit by the Auditor-General on the disposal of Government Vehicles for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ghana Health Service.
    Mr Speaker, when your Committee, for which I am a member met on these two Reports from the Auditor-General, we were appalled by the lack of transparency that we saw in the auction process. The Report covers it in paragraph 7.2.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:51 p.m.
    Hon Member, let me not get confused or let us not confuse the record. The law on auction is part of the Public Procurement Act. If I understand correctly, it is for the particular agency to determine which property is to be auctioned and then they would regulate -- No outside body has power over it; am I right?
    Mr George 12:51 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, what you said is the specific truth in the books per the law. But when it comes to practice, as a Committee of this House, we realised from engaging the Auditor-General's Report and auctioneers who have appeared before us that, that is not the practice.
    Mr Speaker, and that is the reason we suggested that we must put the activities of these auctioneers under an independent body that would regulate their activities.
    This is because, even though the law says that the Government agency must identify what asset it is and that it should go through the PPA process for the auctioning of those assets but that is not the case. The auctioneers themselves go and identify the assets, get clearance and come and inform the head of agency.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:51 p.m.
    But if I were the head of agency, I would not permit you because the law is on your side.
    Hon Member, our recommendation should rather help strengthen the heads of agencies to insist on the law. When I was the head of agency, nobody came to us to tell us what to auction. We decided what we were no longer in need of and we sold them. So probably the heads of agencies should also sit up and insist on the law.
    Mr George 12:51 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, properly said. I wish that we have all heads of Government agencies as forceful and as knowledgeable of their rights as you were when you were in Government office.
    Mr Speaker, but we hope that this exposé would help to strengthen the hands of other heads of Government agencies to know what their real rights are because many of them may not even know that is their right. Once an auctioneer comes and says he is coming from the Office of the President, nobody wants to step on anybody's toes.
    Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this Report.
    rose rose
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:51 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Dery? [Pause]
    Hon Dery, you would hold on.
    Hon Tuferu, let me hear you. From where you are hiding, you would have to be up early, otherwise I would not recognise you.
    Mr Mohammed Hardi Tuferu (NPP -- Nanton) 1:01 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion on the Performance Audit Report on the Disposal of Government Vehicles by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ghana Health Service.
    In doing so, I would want to refer you to paragraph 3 of page 5 of the Report on the auditing process in its entirety.
    Mr Speaker, if you witnessed the Public sitting and reviewed the Auditor General's Report on the auction, you would realise that the whole process was very untidy. In paragraph 3 of page 5, a whole Chief Director of the Ministry admitted before the Committee that at the time of the auction, the Ministry did not even know the locations of the vehicles. I beg to read paragraph 3:
    “The Ministry rather explained that some of the vehicles were unserviceable and some were located at unknown locations across the country where they had broken down, and that it was the auctioneer who travelled around the country at his own expense to locate and identify the vehicles for auctioning.”
    Mr Speaker, so this is how terrible the whole process was, because the law on procurement processes involved in auctioneering is very clear. A board of survey has to be constituted to decide that particular assets or vehicles were unserviceable and therefore needed to be auctioned.
    An evaluation team is put in place to assess the values and place prices on them to be auctioned.
    Mr Edward Kaale-ewola Dery (NDC - - Lambussie) 1:01 p.m.
    I thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Motion, that this House adopt the Report on the Disposals of Government Vehicles by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ghana Health Service.
    Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague spoke on the issue of lack of transparency in the whole auditing process. Then also, if we look at the period in which proceeds were paid into the non-tax revenue account, it is a source of worry.
    If we look at Section 29 of the Auction Sales Act 1989, (PNDC Law 230), the auctioneer conducted this audit and within the ten days, moneys were paid to the various institutions but it took them 29 months to account.
    Unfortunately, in some cases, the moneys were even paid into the account three days before they appeared before the Committee. One could see that our own institutions which are supposed to help the system are also the problem.
    Mr Speaker, the Chief Director admitted to the fact that it was their fault and apologised. As your good self would say, he agreed that he would go and never sin anymore. But the issue is that, the Chief Director and the whole Ministry of Food and Agriculture upon which this audit took place were given prior notice of 30 days within which they were unable to respond to the queries.
    It took them 60 days to do that. Even after that, one realised that they were not able to meet the obligatory period.
    Mr Speaker, then also, we realised that the auctioneer, who undertook this auction unlawfully, authenticated this illegality by using his stamp to qualify the auction but was not there in person. He even went ahead to earn his own commission on the auction he did not even do.
    Mr Speaker, going forward, I think we need to actually take serious measures
    just as it was recommended that these auctioneers, not only Alex Mart -- There was another person who did not even appear before the Committee on grounds of sickness.
    He was supposed to refund GH¢44,125.00. As we speak today, they are yet to respond to that query and I do not know whether the man has even refunded the money.
    Mr Speaker, then again, if we look at the Auction Sales Act, 1989 (PNDC Law 230), indeed, they violated so many parts. We thought that as an institution, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ghana Health Service would at least, be responding to some of these issues. As it stands today, we are still waiting to see.
    After submitting this Report and debating on same, we expect that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ghana Health Service would write to the Committee indicating the implementation of this recommendations that the sanctions are actually carried out and the two people we directed that they should be sanctioned are sanctioned and indeed, they have actually implemented the recommendations of the Committee.
    Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion.
    Mr Kwabena Ohemeng-Tinyase (NPP-- Kade) 1:01 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I thank you.
    I rise to speak on the Motion on the Floor on the auction that was conducted and the appearance of the officials before the Public Accounts Committee of which I am a member.
    It is coming out clearly from the early speeches of Hon Members who have spoken on this matter that the whole process of auctioning should be looked
    Mr Kwabena Ohemeng-Tinyase (NPP-- Kade) 1:11 p.m.
    into for a second time in the annals of auctioneering in Ghana currently.
    It is sad to note that the process is flawed in all the circumstances that appeared before the Committee. One wonders whether there is really a process for auctioneering because the first instance was that individual auctioneers brought letters from the Chief of Staff.

    It later came out clearly that in some of the cases, the assets belonging to the particular agencies or the institutions concerned did not even know the particular items that were to be auctioned.

    From the little we know about finance, items to be auctioned are always at the tail end of their valuable asset period. We expect that having taken out all depreciation costs and elements, we should have residual value.

    So if in a particular auction the values that were assigned to the assets to be disposed of were far below the residual values, then it questions whether we really do it in the interest of mother Ghana or for the sake of auctioning.

    We realised that some of the items to be auctioned were even further repaired and put into really usable position before they were brought up for auction at very ridiculous loss values.

    We sometimes wonder whether the agency that valued the assets for auction really did its work as expected, because if a complete vehicle was valued at GH¢1,000.00, then one wonders what was the cost of the tyres under the vehicle; talk less of its battery.

    So, the recommendation of the Committee for a relook at the process of valuing the assets that are to be auctioned needs to be well-endorsed by this august House.

    It is also sad to note that in finance, where money has value, moneys meant for the Government were delayed to the extent that whoever the auctioneer was, he got a free credit line to do whatever business he wanted with government's money until he decided to pay at his own good time.

    The recommendation that we have put out is that, in such situations, the auctioneer who pays late should be surcharged for the usable value of the money and for the period of time that he held it.

    In furtherance, there were several instances where the auctioneers did no job but got paid. There were instances where assets to be auctioned had already been distributed before the auctioneer came with his letter to only meet the officials of the entity to endorse whatever was wrongly done.

    He then took his portion of the auctioning fees and went back. There were even instances where officers who had taken over the vehicles of auctioned assets did not pay or had not paid at the time the auctioneer took his fees.

    These are a few flaws in the auctioneering process that must be looked and relooked into if we are to think Ghana first in all the decisions that we take on auctioneering.

    I therefore thank you for the opportunity to comment and request that this august House adopts this Report and move forward with the recommendations given.

    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 1:11 p.m.
    Hon Majority Leader, what next?
    Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 1:11 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, we were really minded to continue with the Payment Systems and Services Bill, 2018; but yesterday, we gave indication of a Joint Caucus meeting immediately we adjourn.
    On that count, I would want to move that we take an adjournment now and
    reconvene tomorrow at 10 o'clock in the forenoon.
    Mr Avedzi 1:11 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    ADJOURNMENT 1:11 p.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 1.17 p.m. till Thursday, 21st February, 2019, at 10.00 a.m.