Parliament Passes Zongo Development Fund Bill

Parliament on Friday passed the Zongo Development Fund Bill in  fulfilment of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’ s promise during the campaign prior to the December 2016 general elections, to establish the fund as a way of uplifting the condition of the Zongo communities across the country.

     The Zongo Development Fund Bill seeks to establish a Fund to speed up the development of Zongo communities into centres of opportunity.

      The Government has explained that Zongo communities in the country have over the years been bedeviled with infrastructure deficits, lack of social services and poor sanitation.

      In line with the Government’s efforts to ensure the welfare of every citizen; the Bill was introduced as part of efforts to improve the lives of residents in these communities.

      The Government promised to provide 50 million dollars in the Fund when established

Under the current budget, a seed amount of GH¢219.5 million has been budgeted for it.

      The Minister for Inner City and Zongo Development, Mr Boniface Abubakar Saddique, has said the Fund would be deployed in five main areas, namely infrastructure and sanitation, economic empowerment, social development, cultural promotion and security and crime control.

     Mr Saddique has explained that roads, drains, clinics, water, electricity and street lighting would be provided in relevant communities under infrastructure and sanitation; while women and the youth would be trained in entrepreneurship and employment skills for economic empowerment.

     The beneficiaries, he said, would also be assisted to draw business plans and be supported to access credit from financial institutions.

      Meanwhile, the MP for Builsa South, Dr Clement Apaak, has told the House that Members of Parliament whose offices are located on the 10th Floor of Job 600 at the Parliament House are stilling struggling with the damages of a fire outbreak that hit the block last July.

     Dr Apaak said “not all the facilities and amenities are working” and that, “the fans and the air-conditioners are not working.”

    He appealed to the Mr Joseph Osei- Owusu, the First Deputy Speaker, who was then chairing proceedings in the Chamber Block to “crack the whip” to ensure that the “offices would be re-installed” to prevent members on that floor from  apparent discomfort from perspiration and to have offices put in good shape to host their constituents.

     Dr Apaak raised the concern after the reading of the Business Statement for next week, the Seventh Week Ending November 17, 2017, by Mr Osei Kyei- Mensa- Bonsu, the Majority Leader and the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, in which he confirmed the scheduling of the Finance Minister to present the on Wednesday, the November 15 2017 the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year Ending December 21, 2018.

     Among other things, the Majority Leader informed the House of a post budget workshop for the Leadership, Chairpersons, Ranking Members and Deputy Ranking Members of Committees of oversight of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies and respective Committee Clerks, scheduled for Koforidua, from Friday November 17, 2017 to Monday, November 20, 2017.

     “For the avoidance of doubt, Honourable Members are informed that Leadership of Committees responsible for the consideration of annual estimates of Ministries, Departments and Agencies as provided for in the Standing Order 140(4) are to attend the post budget workshop, that is, all the Select Committees and the following Standing Committees (i) Judiciary, (ii) Special Budget (iii) Gender and Children and (iv) Finance,” Mr Kyei-Mensa- Bonsu clarified.

     However, Mr Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah, MP for Ho West and Member of the Government Assurances Committee sought to know why his committee, which he described as very important and the Committee on Poverty Reduction had not been included in the list for the Koforidua post budget workshop.

     Other members complained to the Majority Leader on why Ministers had not been programmed to answer questions they had filed, but which had not been answered and for whose answers by sector Ministers had been rescheduled for a number of weeks.

     In response, Mr Kyei-Mensa- Bonsu said admission of questions rests with the Speaker.

     The House also raised issues with an assessment of the performance of the Members of the House by Odekro, a think tank group, saying that the group should not assess the performance of the legislators without engaging the Leadership.

Contributions also queried the methodology used in the assessment.

     It was also announced that the House would sit next week Monday, and that, there would be extended sittings as well.