Mr Speaker, I hope I can have your indulgence to make a few comments and retire to the Appointments Committee.
I would like to speak in support of the Motion and to commend the Committee and to agree with the last Hon Member who spoke -- if I can refer you to paragraph 10.1 on page 10, of the Committee's Report with your permission it says:
“Delay in the submission of Annual Reports of the Commission
The Committee expressed concern about the continuous violation of section 28 of the Forestry Commission Act of 1999 (Act 571)”
Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I would quote from section 28 of Act 571.
“The Commission shall submit to the Minister as soon as practicable
and in any event not more than 6 months after the end of each financial year a report dealing generally with the activities and operations of the Commission during the year to which the report relates and shall include --
(a) the audited accounts of the Commission and the Auditor- General's report on the accounts;
(b) a statement of the Commission's budget and operational plans for the next financial year; and
(C)such other information as the Commission may consider necessary.”
Mr Speaker, apart from agreeing with the Hon Chairman and the Hon Colleague who just spoke -- this House must take this matter seriously, and where necessary, we should sanction those institutions that fail to respect the letter and spirit of the law.
Mr Speaker, I am particularly interested in subsection (b) which says, with your permission,
“a statement of the Commission's budget and operational plans for the next financial year.”
Probably because many of these may even be organisations that are not funded directly -- This House would not know what goes into their budget, what they budget for, what they would do in the coming year and what they did in the previous year.
Our only opportunity to thoroughly scrutinise the budget of the Forestry Commission is when this report is made available to this House. Therefore, I do
share the position of the Hon Chairman and the Committee to send a strong reservation to all sector Ministers and Government Agencies.
Mr Speaker, you have been one of the longest serving Members of Parliament. It is a truism that in almost every Bill which has passed through this House, this becomes a traditional aspect of reporting on, audited reports and accounts which also churned out even from portions of the Constitution. That respect is important.
Mr Speaker, my only difficulty with the Committee is paragraphs 8.1 and 8.2. I will not fault them because it took a long period for this to come to us. If any person read this Report -- actual, budget, variance, revenue performance -- no year is stated. Are they talking about 2012 or 2013? The Report, even though it is for 2013, would report on activities and operations for 2012. I can assume that because that is my understanding, but if any person were to pick our Committee's Report, he would have a difficulty appreciating what they reported on.
Mr Speaker, the other one is the Mole National Park. Mr Speaker, I just got back from Livingstone, Zambia, with the Hon Majority Leader …
Mr Speaker, I just got back from Livingston, Zambia with the Hon Majority Leader where they have made tourism an important aspect of their resource mobilisation as a country. The Mole National Park, can as well be our - Even though we do not have a Victoria Waterfalls that we could call one of the seven wonders of the world, we have wildlife which a lot of tourists are interested in seeing.
I think that the State should take particular interest in the proper preservation of those species. I tried during the wee hours to see if I could catch a glimpse of the existing rhinoceros in that area. It does not appear that in Ghana, we have been able to situate tourism very well.
I was at the Mole National Park at the beginning of the year where sometimes, tourists struggle to get accommodation. There is only Zaina Lodge which is the superior hotel facility there and when it is full, they cannot accommodate more. We should look at expanding the facilities in that particular area. A lot of marketing needs to be done on that particular facility.
Mr Speaker, in concluding, may I refer you to page 7, table 4 of the Report, on Forest Development, the Activities Under-taken and Key Achievements Made.
Mr Speaker, I come to the item “For jobs created” for Forestry in Ghana; we are reporting 1,905 jobs and we are happy about it. We certainly should not be. This is an industry which could employ 20,000 to 50,000 persons if the resources are properly harnessed and that is what we must do.
Even now, the numbers might probably be lower. I am not aware of any improvements, apart from youth employment activists that have been recruited there, although their salaries have been downsized. [Interruption] Do they want to hear that now?
As the former Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, if any of the young people there take Government to court, they are likely to win an action against the State. This is because at the point of appointing a person, when you oblige him with a contract that this is the amount he or she will earn, it is wrong for the State to renege and reduce the person's earnings. That is not right. If you say you will pay