Debates of 24 Oct 2019

PRAYERS 10:25 a.m.


Mr Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Hon Members, Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 23rd October, 2019.
Page 1 …. 11 —
Mr Chireh 10:25 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
On page 11, item numbered 11, my name has been hyphenated. As you would see from the attendance, it is not hyphenated; it is separated.
Mr Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Thank you very much, Hon Member.
Mr Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Ablakwa 10:25 a.m.
I am most grateful, Mr Speaker.
I tried to catch your eye at page 9. The name of the Prime Minister of Barbados has two different renditions. The first one is correct, the second one is wrong. It should be Rt Hon Mia Amor Mottley, and not “Monttley” as it appears in the third paragraph under item numbered 5.
Mr Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Thank you.
Page 11, 12 and the supplementary
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:25 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I have been away for the first two days since Parliament resumed. I noticed that yesterday, a Statement was made on Brexit and its potential impact on Ghana in the House.
Mr Speaker, even in the United Kingdom (UK), they are still debating Brexit and I am surprised --
Mr Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Hon Majority Leader, I am very sorry to intervene. This is out of order.
I am the sole determiner of the admission of Statements. Yes, Ghana is a member of the Commonwealth and in any intellectual exercise, others too could debate on that matter. The mistake others made was that, they presumed that the Hon Member who made that Statement has come to a conclusion. I am sure those who heard later would have realised that there was no conclusion. You can talk about the ifs, the buts and the alternatives. We too, as Ghanaians and members of the Commonwealth, as people who could be affected by the decision in that matter, can also express our views. We are being proactive. [Hear! Hear!] Just as someone has said, we can be proactive in any way whatsoever.
In fact, we must learn those things rather, so that we can also be meaningful participants in international discourse. Mind you, I was the only
person apart from the Hon Member who made the Statement who had read it at that time. Is that not correct? I am the person who determines its accuracy. It was very intellectual, and I admitted it as such.
Thank you.
Hon Members, we shall proceed to other things.
Mr Iddrisu 10:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, if I have your indulgence, on page 11 of the Votes and Proceedings, it may not appear a major issue, but the Hon Majority Leader and his Hon Deputy sometimes walk on the right and left
-- 10:35 a.m.

Mr Speaker 10:35 a.m.
You may want to go in extenso and speak of the Hon Deputy Majority Leader and then the Minister - you may go the full length.
Mr Iddrisu 10:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, absolutely.
Mr Speaker 10:35 a.m.
The Official Report of Friday, 12th July, 2019.
Hon Members, any corrections?
Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa 10:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, a quick correction on Column 3495, the second paragraph; the word there, “filed”, should be corrected accordingly.
Mr Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Thank you very much.
Any other corrections?
In the absence of any further corrections, the Official Report of Friday, 12th July, 2019, as corrected, is hereby admitted as a true record of proceedings.
Hon Members, we have Questions -- item listed 3; if the Hon Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture would please take the appropriate seat.

All three Questions are addressed to the Hon Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture [Interruption.] I did not know.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I am informed that the Hon Minister is outside the jurisdiction, and she is not coming until next week. In that regard, it would be impossible for her to be here to respond to the Questions.
Mr Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Hon Majority Leader, I do not know whether the Clerk-to-Parliament or your good Hon Self have any communication in this regard; but apparently, I do not have any.
Hon Majority Leader, is there any formal communication?
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, that is what I have said, that the Hon Minister is outside the jurisdiction --
Mr Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Yes, I know, you are telling me that. Have they written? That is what I mean by ‘formal', if I may so say.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, as you know, I travelled and returned just last night, and I do not have any such written communication from her; but that is what I have been told by my Whips.
She has travelled outside the jurisdiction, and they have tried to contact the Hon Deputy Minister. We have the written responses from the Ministry. So, all that is required is for the Hon Deputy Minister --
Mr Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Please is the Hon Deputy Minister in the House?
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, that is exactly what I am saying. We have tried to link up with the Hon Deputy Minister, but there is no response.
Mr Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Very well.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:35 a.m.
We can stand it down. If in the course of time we hear from them, we would request them to --
Mr Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Yes, we would stand it down; but please, it is not a matter until we hear from them. Kindly send a message to the two Hon Deputies that we want them to come and answer their Questions. Naturally, Parliament is not too pleased with a situation whereby we learn on the Floor of the House of such travel arrangement.
We want the Hon Minister at least, one is an Hon Member of this
Honourable House. They should come to this House and tell us something. There are two Hon Deputy Ministers, but none is here, and we are told the Hon Minister is also not here.
Mr Iddrisu 10:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, your directive is appropriate. I think that Hon Ministers and Hon Deputy Ministers must accordingly note that Parliament has resumed and we are in Session.
Mr Speaker, but to be fair to the Hon Majority Leader, when we met for the first time at the Business Committee, I indicated in the past that the Leadership of Parliament should even have an engagement with all Hon Ministers, particularly those who have legislative agenda issues, so that we commonly agree to it.
I acknowledge that for my purposes, I have had formal correspondence only from the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, who has given us details on how she intends to engage Parliament as we have resumed. I think it should run for all other Ministries and we should be able to do that.
The Clerk-to-Parliament should take note that before we convene, there must be a meeting at the instance of Leadership to engage all Hon Ministers, Ministries and Departments
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:35 a.m.
Mr Speaker, first, I wish to make the point that the Hon Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture has just one Hon Deputy Minister and not two.
Mr Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Very well.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:45 a.m.
Secondly, on the issue about communication to them in respect of the date for Parliament's reconvening, at Cabinet, on two occasions, we have given the information to them.
If they have some prior arrangements, especially in this regard when we are told that the Hon Minister had to travel outside, I would not know until the person tells me.
Mr Speaker, it is most unfortunate that at the beginning of the Meeting, we have encountered this problem. I believe that we must be able to surmount it. We are still making desperate efforts to contact the Hon Deputy Minister. If he insists, he should be here to respond to the Questions if he has that schedule.
Sometimes some of the Hon Deputy Ministers have different schedules. If he has that schedule, he should be in a position to come and respond to the Question, especially given the fact that the main response has been sent by the Hon Minister and indeed, it is covered by the Order Paper. We would still make enquiries to see if we are able to get hold of the Hon Deputy Minister.
Mr Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Clerk-to-Parliament, you would endeavour to send one of your most senior persons to the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture to bring the Hon Deputy Minister and the Chief Director to this Honourable House before we rise, so that they can tell us something specific.
Painfully, I would have been alright if other Hon Ministers had been listed. Questions 618, 619 and 620 are all for one Hon Minister, which renders rather otiose our process this morning.
Please, bring both of them here and let them tell you something to tell me. We would stand the Questions down.
There being no Statement, we would move to the item numbered 5.
At the Commencement of Public Business -- Presentation of Papers.
Item numbered 5(1) -- Minister for Finance?
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:45 a.m.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance is absent, and I could lay the Papers on his behalf. I have been in consultation with the Clerks-at-the- Table, and I am assured that they have sufficient copies readily available. So I could lay the Papers on behalf of the Hon Minister.
Mr Speaker, I believe we may even have to look at the construction of the first Paper to be presented. It reads, “Strategic Climate Fund Loan Agreement”. We may as well say it is “A Loan Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the International Development Association and the World Bank …” We may not even need the introductory phrase, “Strategic Climate Fund” It should rather begin as “Loan Agreement …” because the
purpose of the loan is captured in the body.
Mr Speaker, I would want to lay the Paper on behalf of the Hon Minister with that agreement. Mr Speaker, if we are ad idem, I could lay the Paper on behalf of the Hon Minister.
Mr Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Essentially, what the Hon Majority Leader said was for him to be permitted to lay the Paper. In so doing, he has corrected the presentation by deleting “Strategic Climate Fund” and simply inserting “A” to read, “A Loan Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Inter- national Development Association
PAPERS 10:45 a.m.

Mr Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Item listed 6 -- Motion.
Chairman of the Committee?
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:45 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I am informed that the Report from the Finance Committee for the item listed 6 is not ready. That would affect the item listed 7. I should think that items 8 and 9 would also be affected.
Mr Speaker 10:45 a.m.
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Iddrisu 10:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, under the circumstance and with these dark clouds that arise out of the un-
availability of electricity, I would encourage the Hon Majority Leader to move a Motion for adjournment.
I believe that this is only appropriate, since we cannot take the Motions numbered 6 and 7.
Again, since the Hon Majority Leader just returned, I would encourage him to settle down and take charge.
Mr Speaker, if you have no objection, the Hon Majority Leader should move a Motion for adjourn- ment, so that tomorrow, Committees could sit. As you rightly advised, the Hon Majority Leader has directed that Committee leaders should meet as soon as practicable to report on referrals that you have directed to them.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I spoke to Motions listed 6 and 8, and their accompanying Resolutions listed as items numbered 7 and 9.
Mr Speaker, you directed that I should request somebody to physically bring the Hon Deputy Minister down to respond to the Questions. Unfortunately, as we speak, I have no communication from the errand man.
Mr Speaker, therefore, with the combination of circumstances,I would want to move that we adjourn proceedings until tomorrow at 10.00 a.m. in the forenoon.
Mr Speaker, as the Hon Minority Leader has iterated, today at the Business Committee meeting, I gave an indication that the Committee Chairmen and their Ranking Members may have to meet.
In fact, I would want to meet them tomorrow in the morning, at 9.00 a.m. in order for us to go through the various referrals to the various Committees, and decide on which ones we could deal with.
Mr Speaker, this is because this Meeting is essentially a Budget Statement Meeting, and we must clear our tables before the Budget Statement comes to be presented to the House. This is because once the Budget Statement is presented, there would be little space to deal with the other matters.
Therefore, tomorrow at 9.00 a. m., I would want to meet all the Committee Chairmen and their Ranking Members, so that we make a determination on the way forward; where they are with the various referrals made to them, and which referrals are ready and could be taken

and deliberated on, for the House to take a position on them before the presentation of the Budget Statement.

Mr Speaker, having so spoken, I would want to go back to the Motion that I began to move, and to indicate that I have so moved for adjournment.
Mr Speaker 10:55 a.m.
The Hon Majority Leader had rightfully referred to his expectation, in fact, our expectation of a certain response from the relevant Ministry.
Hon Members, we are in our House. Luckily, we all have offices now. I would pray that we suspend Sitting for one hour and await the outcome. I would want us to make a point that we are busy working, and expect what should be done to be done.
It should therefore be noted that we here are waiting. We would stand the work down till 12.00 noon, and hope that we shall have an appropriate response. I see by the nods that Hon Members are quite satisfied with this ruling.
Hon Members, the House stands suspended till 12.00 p. m.
Thank you very much.
Mr Speaker 10:55 a.m.
Hon Members, we suspended Sitting for a while to receive some advice from the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture. The Hon Majority Leader would brief us regarding same.
In view of the time and the nature of business ahead of us, I direct that business be held beyond the prescribed hours.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:55 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, this morning, Sitting was suspended on account of the absence of the Hon Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture from the Chamber, to respond to Questions that had been slated for her. The Hon Minister was not in the Chamber and we made frantic efforts to also contact the Hon Deputy Minister who in the absence of the Minister, the House had agreed could come and fill in.
Unfortunately, our efforts did not yield any positive dividend, for which reason you directed that we should send emissaries physically to the Ministry to enquire about what was happening. The emissaries got there,
got the Chief Director and one of the Directors at the Ministry and asked them to report to Parliament, which they did.
Mr Speaker, the conversation that we had with them indeed revealed that the information that I passed on this morning was right, that the Hon Minister had travelled outside Ghana to attend an African Union meeting of Ministers responsible for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development.
The House sent a request to the Minister on Tuesday, 22nd of October, 2019, the very day Parliament resumed Sitting. The Hon Minister at the time was in the jurisdiction but had left the office when the parliamentary Questions were sent to the Ministry. The Chief Director undertook to study the Questions and find the appropriate responses.
Mr Speaker, according to the Chief Director, after he was done with the responses, he got in touch with the Hon Minister who was still in the jurisdiction but not in the office because she was about to leave. After they discussed the responses, the Hon Minister was satisfied and asked that the responses be transmitted to Parliament, which was accordingly done yesterday.
The Hon Minister is not coming back until Sunday or Monday, which
means that she cannot be with us until then. The earliest she could be with us would be next week Tuesday. The Hon Deputy Minister whom we tried calling this morning had apparently travelled outside and was scheduled to have arrived last night. Unfortunately, the Hon Deputy Minister could not arrive last night, which explains why all efforts that we made to contact him on phone proved futile.
In this circumstance, we have agreed that we reschedule the Questions to next week Tuesday, to enable the Hon Minister or her Deputy to come and respond to the three Questions that have been filed, standing in the names of Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh, Hon Member for Nsawam-Adoagyiri and Mr Rockson- Nelson Etse Kwame Dafeamekpor, Hon Member for South Dayi.
Mr Speaker, that is the agreement. I would like to apologise on behalf of the Hon Minister for the inconvenience caused to the House, even though inadvertent.
Alhaji Inusah A. B. Fuseini 10:55 a.m.
Mr Speaker, we really have no basis to contradict or challenge what the Hon Leader of this House has told us concerning the reasons that occasioned the absence of the Hon
Alhaji Inusah A. B. Fuseini 2:05 p.m.
Minister and her Deputy from this House to answer Questions. We also as Parliament have no business directing the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture on how to regulate and manage their affairs.
However, we would have thought that at any point in time, where there is both a Minister and a Deputy, at least, one of them would be within the jurisdiction for the purposes of providing leadership at the Ministry. That is why the President, in his wisdom, appointed a Deputy Minister to assist the Minister in the performance of her duties.
Mr Speaker, as it is now, we can only commend you because Parliament has demonstrated that it cannot play second fiddle to the Executive. So, where there are Questions for a Minister to answer, those Questions and the invitation to appear before this House, must be taken seriously. That is where your directive this morning points to. It conclusively points to the position of Parliament in relation to Ministers appearing before this House to answer Questions.
I just hope that Ministers who have listened to the news as carried this morning on your directive, would take this House more seriously. As Parliament, Question time is one of the tools that we use to exercise
supervisory jurisdiction over the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) that this House has approved resources for in the management of their various policies and programmes.
Mr Speaker, so it is important that when we invite them to come and answer Questions, we do so in pursuance of our authority and rights as the guardians of the public purse, to invite them to come before us. So, we cannot cry over spilt milk. The Hon Minister and her Deputy are not in the jurisdiction and the Chief Director has no locus to appear before us. What we can do is take this unfortunate situation and reschedule them to appear before us.
Mr Speaker, again, I would invite you to sound a note of caution. When persons who have been put in public offices to manage such offices are invited and scheduled for meetings in this House, they should take it seriously.
I concede the Hon Majority Leader's position that the letter that went to the Ministry was dated 22nd October, 2019, the very day that we resumed. They acted timeously by responding to the letter, indicating that they stood by the answers they had filed previously.

Mr Speaker, but, conspicuously absent in that letter is any indication that they would not be able to appear before this House. So, we were entitled to believe that having given the assurance that they stood by the answers, they were ready and willing to appear before us. However, as it is, they are not in the House because they are out of the jurisdiction. So we leave everything in your hands to say what could be done to remedy the situation.
Mr Joseph Naabu 2:05 p.m.
[Yea! Yea!] you have done well. [Laughter.]
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 2:05 p.m.
Mr Speaker, much as I applaud the response of my Hon Colleague who is seated to the left of the pro tem available Hon Leader, he should understand that the response to such presentations and submission is ‘‘Hear! Hear!'' and not ‘'Yea, Yea'' -- [Laughter]
Mr Speaker, our Standing Orders provide that an Hon Minister shall not take more than three weeks to respond to a Question from the House. This House resumed Sitting on the 22nd of October, 2019 and on the same day, after the Business Committee had sat and programmed
for the Hon Minister to come and respond to the Questions, today, Thursday, 24th October, 2019, the same day, the Ministry worked on the Questions and submitted their response on the 23rd October, 2019 which was yesterday - barely 24 hours after we had communicated to them.
I believe that the Ministry should be commended for the response that -- [Interruption] -- Mr Speaker, the response came to the House on the 23rd of October, 2019 and that is why I said that they acted timeously for which reason they should be commended.
Mr Speaker, the other leg was for the Hon Minister to have come to the House to respond to the Questions filed but she had to travel and the arrangement was that the Hon Deputy Minister was to arrive last night. So, between the two of them, because the Questions were slated for today, the Hon Deputy was then required to come and stand in for the substantive Hon Minister. Unfortunately, the Hon Deputy Minister was not able to arrive.
As I stand here now, I am not in the position to tell what really prevented the Hon Deputy Minister from arriving. The Chief Director himself and the other Director who
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 2:05 p.m.

were in the House, were not able to respond because they themselves tried to contact him but did not reach him.

Mr Speaker, it would be difficult for me to fault the Hon Deputy Minister or the Hon Minister for their absence in the Chamber because of what I have said. [Interruption.] If the Hon Colleague had followed my narrative, he would have heard what I said.

Mr Speaker, it is unfortunate we find ourselves in this situation and that is why I apologise on behalf of the Hon Minister. But it is a difficult situation; she had to leave. The Hon Deputy Minister is supposed to come back and assume responsibility for this but unfortunately, he did not come and we do not know what has occasioned his absence.

Mr Speaker, generally speaking, we could relate to the fact that the Hon Ministers must programme themselves in such a way as to take all these into consideration - the fact that maybe, a plane perhaps, could not even arrive on schedule or perhaps, anything could have happened to the Hon Deputy Minister outside. However, they are lessons that as a country or as Hon Ministers we should draw from what has happened.

Mr Speaker, unfortunate as the situation is, it is difficult at this stage to

apportion blame. Notwithstanding, we must all learn a useful lesson from this.

This is just to respond to the few issues that Hon Inusah Fuseini brought up.
Alhaji I.A.B. Fuseini 2:05 p.m.
Mr Speaker, we are united in our desire to find a solution to this problem because we can do nothing about it -- both the Hon Minister and his Hon Deputy are not in the House. However, it is important for us to know that reckoning of time by our Standing Orders starts from when the Questions were transmitted to the Ministry and not when they wrote to us or when they were scheduled to appear before the House. By our Standing Orders on the reckoning of time, they were perfectly within time because they had responded to the Question within the mandated three weeks. The Questions, together with a communique or a letter was sent on the 29th of July, 2019. The three week period does not extend to a reschedule.
What we are worried about is that when the Hon Minister was informed that she was to appear before Parliament and she was out of office and by the narrative of the Hon Majority Leader, the officers of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture
got to the Hon Minister, discussed the Questions that had been filed with her, she stood by the Questions, and she knew at that time that her Hon Deputy was not in the jurisdiction but she did not give an indication that she would not also be in the jurisdiction. So, even though she stood by the Answers, the Ministry would be unavailable to answer those Questions. She left a lacuna opened and so, we were entitled to believe that they would appear and that is not part of the three weeks for which we should commend the Ministry.
An Hon Member 2:05 p.m.
In Africa.
Alhaji I.A.B. Fuseini 2:05 p.m.
In which part of Africa?
Mr Speaker, we were also told that the Hon Deputy Minister is out of the jurisdiction -- to where? Which business is he performing there? Is it public or private business? If it is public business, is it weightier than the call of Parliament? We should be able to have answers to these. If it is private
business, was he granted permission to travel?
Mr Speaker, if we want to pry into the reasons they are not in the House, we might open a kind of web and that is why I totally support your admonishing to the Hon Ministers to appear before this House. Because it is within our right, so to demand and probably, even to withhold subventions to them if they treat this House with impunity and contempt, so we support the directive. This is for other Hon Ministers to know that Question times are important parliamentary business to be treated with utmost respect and importance within the Executive branch of Government.
Mr Speaker, thank you.
Mr Speaker 2:15 p.m.
Thank you very much. Hon Members, I think that we have exhausted this matter and we have, as a House, made our point that we are here to work. We expect all who have business here, to also come and fulfil their mandate.
It is important to point that this is not a new Question just asked; it is a
Mr Speaker 2:15 p.m.
long standing one. That is why the appropriate correspondence was addressed by the Table Office accordingly. It is important to note that I wanted to meet the Chief Director by all means. Unfortunately, I could not meet him because when I was finally asked to come, he had been allowed to go. They accompany Hon Ministers to Parliament to answer their Questions and they do so in their numbers.
When an Hon Minister is not available under such circumstances and they have not written to expressly inform Parliament of the non- availability of the Hon Minister, which we all know will happen from time to time, they must come as well. In fact, that is the more reason they must be here to deliver the appropriate message in the form of a letter to the appropriate authority, to wit, the Clerk-to-Parliament.
That is why this morning, I kept asking where the relevant Commu- nication was? This is because I know the background of the matter. That correspondence from the Office of the Chief Director was not available and still not available. They were only telling us that they stand by their previous Answers.
We know that Hon Ministers must move from place to place and from time to time all in the course of official duties. However, the Chief Directors must ensure that written Communication, possibly, in their presence is made available to the Clerk-to-Parliament when such emergencies and sudden situations arise so that at least, Parliament will advise itself and re-fix such Questions accordingly. It is good for the good order of events and also to show due regard to this Honourable House no matter the time and circumstance, but for all times, this should be done.
The Clerk-to-Parliament would make sure that this is appropriately conveyed, not to one Ministry, but to all through the appropriate Hon Ministers.
Thank you very much.

Time is far spent as it is past 2 o'clock. At this juncture, I can only say that this Honourable House is adjourned to tomorrow at 10 o'clock in the forenoon.

  • The House was adjourned at 2.19 p.m. till Friday, 25th October, 2019 at 10.00 a.m.