Ghana's Parliament
Ghana's Parliament

Parliament approves Ghana – US Defence Cooperation Agreement

Parliament on Friday approved by majority vote, the agreement between the Governments of Ghana and the United States on defence cooperation, the status of United States forces and access to and use of agreed facilities and areas in Ghana.

The approval followed intense debate between members of the Majority and Minority, leading to a walk out from the Chamber by the Minority before voting on the agreement. The Minority MPs interspersed the debate with occasional singing of nationalistic songs, in frantic attempts to prevent the approval of the agreement. They were also provided solidarity by some leaders of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), who observed proceedings from the public gallery clad in red arm and head bands.

The Defence Cooperation Agreement, according to several sources, would allow US military personnel unhindered access to some agreed military facilities in Ghana and the permission to establish their own telecommunications system in Ghana while using Ghana’s radio spectrum free of charge. Military equipment brought to Ghana from the US would also be exempt from taxes. The agreement would also see US$20m invested in the Ghanaian Armed Forces in one year, and some major military exercises involving hundreds of troops from Ghana and its neighboring countries and the US, held in Ghana this year.

Minority Leader Hon. Haruna Iddrisu (MP, Tamale South) argued that the agreement violated Article 75 of the 1992 Constitution. He also cautioned the country about the agreement, indicating that even a powerful country like Germany was reconsidering having a United States Military base on its territory.

“We have to give them access to radio spectrum. We have to give them runway. This agreement, in my honored view, should be sent back to retired generals for consideration. This must be done Ghana first, not America. Our sovereignty is unsafe”, said the Minority leader.

The Minister of Defence Hon. Dominic Nitiwul (MP, Bimbilla) however denied that the agreement sought to establish a US military base in Ghana and stressed that, “the soldiers are not permanent forces. The agreement says the United States Armed Forces may not be physically present at agreed facilities at all time. There’s no base.”

The approval of the agreement concluded the second meeting of the House for its current session. The House was subsequently adjourned sine die.

The report of the Joint-committee on Defense and Interior and Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs can be downloaded here: https://bit.ly/2IOAskV

RTI Bill, 2018 laid in Parliament

The Right To Information (RTI) Bill, 2018 was laid before Parliament on Friday. The Bill was referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal & Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report.

When passed, the law would empower members of the public to demand information from public duty bearers and improve accountability within the public sector. The RTI Law is also expected to contribute immensely to the fight against corruption in the country.

The enactment of an RTI Law in Ghana has been championed by various local civil society groups for more than two decades.

The latest development in efforts to enact the RTI Law follows spirited public campaigns in recent days by some local civil society groups after President Akufo-Addo promised in his Independence Day Speech to ensure the enactment of the Law before the just-ended meeting of Parliament.

Ayariga sues Government over social intervention programmes

Member of Parliament for Bawku Central and Chairman of Parliament’s Subsidiary Legislation Committee, Hon. Mahama Ayariga, has sued the government at the Supreme Court to demand the suspension of the implementation of some social intervention programmes like the Free SHS, School Feeding Programme and the planned Nation Builders’ Corp, until appropriate modalities for their implementation have been introduced and approved by Parliament.

Hon. Ayariga’s suit requests for “an order of mandamus compelling the President or his assigned Ministers to bring to Parliament appropriate legislation establishing the institutions or agencies to implement the said initiatives, and to have proper regulations presented to Parliament for enactment to govern the exercise of discretionary power necessarily implicated in the implementation of the said initiatives once the Appropriations (No. 2) Act, 2017 (Act 951) was passed by Parliament authorizing the appropriation of the funds.”

The suit fulfills the MP’s pledge to press for Parliament-approved guidelines on the exercise of discretionary power by public officers especially in the implementation of public social intervention programs, in the wake of the recent sentencing to jail of the former Coordinator of the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Agency (GYEEDA), Mr. Abuga Pele and one other person, for corruption charges related to the exercise of discretionary powers by Mr. Abuga Pele.

Read the full writ: https://bit.ly/2G1uHCZ

Ghana Deposit Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2018 passed

Parliament has passed the Ghana Deposit Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2018. The law is expected to promote mechanisms to protect depositors in the wake on bank collapses in the country.

Parliament approves issuance of Government of Ghana 2018 sovereign bond

Parliament on Friday approved by majority vote the government’s request to issue the 2018 sovereign bond and Global Depository Note (GDN). The bond would ensure $1bn to finance 2018 budget, $1.5bn to refinance the maturing external bond and $500m to refinance expensive domestic cedi-denominated bond.

Proceeds from the bond would be specifically spent on areas including irrigation infrastructure, rehabilitation of warehouses and silos, fisheries and aquaculture inputs, and infrastructure, education, health, road and rail infrastructure.

The Minority had however wanted the request rejected, claiming the bond was not consistent with the budget allocation for the 2018 financial year as presented to the House by the Minister of Finance.

The report of the Finance Committee can be downloaded here: https://bit.ly/2pBrPS2

Ministerial Appearances

The Minister of Aviation, Cecilia Dapaah appeared before the House on Friday to respond to questions related to her sector.

The Minister of Roads and Highways, Kwesi Amoako-Attah (MP Atiwa-West) appeared before the House on Friday to respond to questions related to his sector.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hon Shirley Ayorkor-Botchwey (MP Anyaa Sowutuom) appeared before the House on Thursday to respond to questions on her sector.

The Deputy Minister of Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation Hon. Patricia Appiagyei (MP, Asokwa) appeared in Parliament on Wednesday, to respond to questions on the sector on behalf of the sector Minister.

The Minister of Interior Hon. Ambrose Dery (MP, Nandom) appeared before the House on Wednesday to respond to questions on efforts of the Ministry to improve security in the country.

The Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture appeared before the House on Tuesday to answer questions related to his ministry on behalf of the sector Minister

Bills & Other Papers

Friday, 23 March

The House voted by majority on Friday to approve government’s request to issue the 2018 sovereign bond and GDN: a. $1bn to finance 2018 budget, b. 1.5bn to refinance maturing external bond (2022 & 2023 Eurobond), c. $500m to refinance expensive cedi denominated debt;

The Annual Public Debt Management Report for 2017 fiscal year was laid on Friday. It was referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report;

The House on Friday adopted the Finance Committee report on the request to waive import duties, import VAT, import NHIL & other approved imposts to GH¢ eq $52,393,870.00 on distillate operational fuel, power eqt & power plants for Trojan Power plant operations [Report of the Finance Committee can be downloaded here: https://bit.ly/2G7O0q6 ];

The House on Friday adopted the Finance Committee’s report on the request to waive import duties, import VAT, ECOWAS levy, EXIM levy, Special import levy & other approved imposts of up to GH¢ eq $176,799,193.00 for 15-yrs on equipment to be be procured for implementation of NIA;

The Annual Report on Presidential Office Staff for the period January to December 2017 was laid on Friday;

The Report of the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development on the monitoring visit to selected MMDAs was adopted on Friday [Report of the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development can be downloaded here: https://bit.ly/2G1mSgD ]

The Annual report on management of the energy sector levies and accounts for the year 2017 was laid on Friday, and referred to Finance Committee for consideration.

The House on Friday adopted the report of the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development on the monitoring visit to selected MMDAs.

On Friday, the House adopted the Finance Committee’s report on the credit agreement between the Government of Ghana and Raiffeisen Bank International AG, Austria for amount not exceeding €8,400,000.00 to finance upgrade & enhancement of TVET centers.

The House on Friday adopted the Finance Committee’s report on Government concessional loan agreement between Government of Ghana and China EXIM Bank for amount not exceeding $119,101,946.00 to finance rehabilitation & upgrading of equipment in Technical Universities, Polytechnics and TVETs;

The Annual Public Debt Management Report for the 2017 fiscal year was laid on Friday, and referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report.

Thursday, 22 March

The House approved the Proposed Formula for distributing DACF for 2018 on Thursday [Report of the Committee of the Whole on proposed formula can be downloaded here: https://bit.ly/2pDWWMK ];

The House adopted the report of the Committee on Mines and Energy on the 2018 Work programme of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) on Thursday;

The House on Thursday adopted the Report of the Finance Committee on request for waiver of import duties, taxes amounting to $66,681,968.00 (GH¢295,114,387.96) on materials to be imported for National Electrification Scheme and Self-Help Electrification Programme – Four (SHEP-4);

The House adopted the report of the Committee on Environment, Science & Technology on Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of benefits arising from their utilization to the conversion on biological diversity on Thursday;

The Report of the Finance Committee on the request for waiver of import duties, taxes amounting to $176,799,193.00 for National ID projects was presented on Thursday.

Wednesday, 21 March

Taxation (use of fiscal electronic device) Bill, 2017 — at the consideration stage. Remaining areas for amendment are Clauses 28, 36, second schedule and long title;

The National Petroleum Authority (Bulk Road Vehicle and Volume Monitoring) (Amendment) Regulations, 2018 was laid on Friday and referred to the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation for consideration and report.

The Report of the Finance Committee on the request for waiver of import duties, taxes amounting to $66,681,968 (GH¢295,114,387.96) on materials & equipment to be imported by MoEn & Weldy/Lamont Associates of Illinois for NES under SHEP-4 was laid on Wednesday, and distributed to MPs;

The Report of finance Committee on request waiver of import duties, taxes of $52,393,870.00 on distillate operational fuel, power equipment and power plants for Trojan Power Limited’s power plant ops under equipment rental agreement with GoG was laid on Wednesday;

The House on Wednesday voted to approve the report of the Finance Committee on amendment of the Ghana – Swiss Confederation 23/07/2008 Convention on the Avoidance of double taxation w.r.t taxes on income, on capital and capital gains and its protocol;

The House on Wednesday adopted the Finance Committee’s report on the Bank of Ghana annual report on Petroleum Holding Fund and Ghana Petroleum Fund for 1H ending 30/06/2017 and 2H ending 31/12/2017 (some corrections ordered to be made to the Report by the Speaker)

Tuesday, 20 March

The House adopted the Formula for the Distribution of the National Health Insurance Fund for the year 2018 on Tuesday;

The Ghana Integrated Bauxite and Aluminum Authority Bill, 2018 was on Tuesday presented for the and read for the first time by deputy minister of lands and natural resources on behalf of minister, and referred to the Committee on Lands & Forestry for consideration and report;

The House on Tuesday approved the loan and financing agreement between the Government of Ghana and KFW, Frankfurt for a loan amount of €13m

By: Odekro
Follow Odekro on social media for regular updates of parliamentary proceedings and use the hashtag #GhParliament on twitter with your comments and opinions. ©2018 This Week In Parliament

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