This Week In Parliament (March 05 – March 09, 2018)

Highlights of what MPs discussed

  • Parliament approves UA27,864,750 (US$39.01 million) ADF loan (March 9, 2018)

Parliament on Friday March 9th 2018, approved a UA27,864,750 (US$39.01million) loan agreement between the Government of Ghana and African Development Fund (ADF). The loan would be used to finance the Savannah Zone Agricultural Productivity Improvement Project (SAPIP). According to the Finance Committee, the total cost of the project is estimated at US$56.69 million. The ADF's contribution of $39.01 million represents 68.9% of the cost with Government of Ghana expected to contribute the remaining 31.1%, mainly in kind. SAPIP aims to increase farmers' incomes through increased agricultural productivity and diversification, boost national food and nutrition strategy, and strengthen agribusinesses along the value chain.

  • House celebrates women on International Women’s Day (March 8, 2018)

MPs took turns to celebrate women on the International Women’s Day on Thursday March 8th, 2018. Deputy Majority Leader Hon. Adwoa Safo (MP, Dome-Kwabenya) praised some accomplished Ghanaian women including the Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo, and other women ministers in the present administration. She called for speedy work on the passage of the Affirmative Action and Interstate Succession Bills. Her call was supported by the Speaker, Hon. Prof. Mike Oquaye, who also called on the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection to ensure the Affirmative Action Bill reached the House in a “matter of days”. Hon. Ladi Ayamba (MP, Pusiga) also called for equal educational opportunities for boys and girls and support for women running small businesses.

The Minority in Parliament on Wednesday a silent protest to register their displeasure with the conduct of the Speaker, who allegedly refused to permit the Minority Leader, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu (MP, Tamale South) to speak on any issue raised on the floor of the House by courtesy of his position. The Minority said they would attend the proceedings of the House on the following day but would not make any contributions. This is latest twist in the Minority’s raging cold war with the Speaker.

  • Symposium to mark 25 years of Parliamentary Democracy in Ghana held (March 5, 2018)

A symposium to herald 25 years of uninterrupted Parliamentary democracy in Ghana was hosted by the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, in Accra on Monday 5th Match, 2018. The event was attended by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, MPs, civil society leaders and members of the diplomatic corps.
Delivering the keynote address on the topic: ‘The Future of Good Governance in Africa’, President of the Nigerian Senate and the guest of honor, Hon. Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, stated that maintaining democracies required strong legislatures. “In areas of our oversight responsibility, we must be courageous. We must speak out; we must be able to stand behind our people”, he urged.

Addressing the audience earlier, Speaker of Parliament Hon. Prof. Mike Oquaye reflected that no Parliament in Ghana could last beyond 37 months between 1966 and 1993 but the Fourth Republican Parliament has survived for the last 25 years. He saluted all who have assisted with the development of Parliament and expressed delight over the peaceful co-existence of the Executive and the Legislature.

Panelists at the symposium, who represented various local civil society groups, agreed on the giant strides Parliament has made and highlighted some areas for urgent reforms.

  • Bills & Others

The Proposed 2018 GETFund formula was laid before the House on Friday. It was referred to the Committee of the Whole for consideration and report by the Speaker.

A request for $52,393,870 waiver on import duties for Trojan Power and the Ghana Deposit Protection (Amendment) Bill 2018 were also laid before the House and referred to the Finance Committee.

The Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill, 2018 was read in Parliament for the first time on Thursday. The Bill was laid by the Deputy Attorney-General Mr. Godfred Dame on behalf of the Attorney-General. The Speaker referred the bill to the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for consideration and report.

MPs debated aspects of the Taxation (Use of Fiscal Electronic Device) Bill, 2017 throughout the week. The Bill is currently at the consideration stage.

A request for waiver of duties and taxes on materials & equipment to be imported by Ministry of Energy & Weldy/Lamont Associates for implementation of NES and SHEP IV projects, amounting to GH¢295,114,387.96,was laid in the House on Wednesday. It was referred to the Finance Committee.

A protocol between the Republic of Ghana and the Swiss Confederation amending the convention of 23rd July 2008, for double taxation with respect to taxes on income, capital & capital gains and its protocol was laid in the House on Wednesday. It was referred to the Finance & Foreign Affairs Committees for consideration.

The Annual Report on the Activities of the Audit Service for the calendar years ended 31st December 2015 and 2016 was laid on Wednesday. The Speaker directed its distribution to MPs.

  • Ministerial Appearances

Minister of Railways Development Hon. Joe Ghartey (MP, Essikado) on Friday assured the House in a response to a question by Hon. Zanetor Rawlings (MP Korle Klottey) that the planned demolishing and development of the CMB/Abuja area would only affect the proposed site for the rebuilding of the railways staff quarters. He said there is a legal dispute over the existing site where the dilapidated staff quarters was sited.

Minister of Health, Hon Kweku Agyeman Manu (MP, Dormaa Central) appeared before the House on Thursday to respond to some constituency specific health issues from MPs.

Minister of Gender & Social Protection Hon. Otiko Afisa Djaba also assured the House on Thursday that the Affirmative Action Bill is currently before cabinet and would come to the House after the Easter break.

Minister of Works and Housing, Hon. Samuel Attah Akyea (MP, Abuakwa North) appeared before the House on Wednesday to respond to questions from MPs. In response to a question by Hon. Kwame Governs Agbodza (MP, Adaklu) on steps the ministry was taking to prevent flooding in Accra, Hon. Atta Akyea assured that the Ministry in collaboration with the Sanitation & Water Resources, Local Government and Rural Development, and MMDAs, had put in place short-term measures including the update of hydrological maps, creation of diversions for water movement, awareness creation, fund mobilization, demolition of unwanted structures and the deepening and widening of channels to prevent flooding. He indicated that an amount of GH¢5.5 million had been approved for the 2018 financial year and that government was bringing “'world class and top notch'' engineers together to build underground drains in the city.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Shirley Ayorkor-Botchwey (MP Anyaa Sowutuom) also appeared before the House on Wednesday to update MPs on the issue of the enslavement of some Ghanaians in Libya. She revealed that a 5-member team had reported that 72 Ghanaians had been detained for various offenses in Libya with 70 of them willing to return to Ghana. She also mentioned that permission had been granted to establish consulates in Tripoli and Niger.

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