Minority blocks approval of €75m Covid money


The Majority members in Parliament got the shock of their lives yesterday, as their counterparts, the Minority, shot down an amount of €75 million intended for a Covid-19 Health Response due to lack of quorum.

The Majority was stunned at the opposition’s reaction, mainly because the debate on the loan agreement had been concluded weeks ago, and the only thing the presiding Speaker had to do was to put the question.

However, the Ranking Member on the Committee of Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Mr. Bernard Ahiafor, opposed the putting of the question, indicating that the number transacting such a business was inadequate.

“Mr. Speaker,by the decision in that case,foradecisionsuchasthistobetakenbytheHouse [it] needs majority of MPs based on article 104.

“This is a crucial financial decision about to be taken, andyouaregoingto ask thequestionforadecisiontobetakenandwearelessthanfiftyofthemembersoftheHouse,” Mr.Ahiafor submitted.

His comments followed a Supreme Court ruling on the interpretation of articles 102 and 104 of the 1992 Constitution, which deal with quorum in Parliament.

The case, which was between a private Legal Practitioner, Justice Abdulai and the Attorney General, wentagainstJusticeAbdulaiandbyextensiontheMinorityMPs and the caucus hassince ceasedeveryopportunitytodisallowsome of the businesses in theHouse, with regards to the numbers.

But, before the Mr.Ahiabor raised his objection, the Second Deputy Speaker, Mr. Andrew Amoako Asiamah, who was presiding, had wanted to put the question for either the approval or rejection of the House.

This was based on an indication of the Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Mr.Cassiel Ato Forson, that the debate on the money had been concluded and the only thing left for the Deputy Speaker to do was to put the question.

However, the Deputy Minority Leader and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Mr James Klutse Avedzi, indicated to the Speaker that he wanted to make an input, because the Order Paper Addendum, which contained that particular business had indicated that the debate was yet to be concluded.

Despite  resistance from both sides that the debate had been concluded, and that it was time for the Deputy Speaker to put the question, Mr.Klutse Avedzi insisted on making a comment, because the Order Paper Addendum had stated otherwise.

The Deputy Speaker, therefore, allowed Mr.Avedzi to make some comments. MrIssacAdongo, Member of Parliament for Bolgatanga Central, also made some comments.

It was after these comments that the Mr Ahiafor raised the objection for the motion to be approved.

The Attorney General, Mr.Godfred Yeboah Dame, who was in the House to transact business on behalf of his Ministry, tried to intervene in the situation, but did not succeed.

He noted that the Supreme Court decision in Justice Abdulai and the Attorney General case didnotunderminethefactthat Parliament wasamasterofitsownrules.

Hesaidthefactsinthematterwereclear, and the parties involved agreed on these facts, and indicated that basedontheprinciplesthat Parliament wasamasterofitsownprocedure,iftheHousehadadoptedaproceduretoapprovetheloan,thentheHouseshouldgobythatprocedure.

This intervention from Mr. Dame was not adhered to, as the Second Deputy Speaker adjourned sitting without approving the money.

Yesterday’s incident was not the first time the Minority had raised issues of a quorum since the Supreme Court ruling.

Some months ago, the Minority stopped the approval of a €20 million agreement between the Government of Ghana and the German Development Bank Group, Frankfurt.The amount was to finance the Green Credit Line, under the Reform and Investment Partnership between the Government of Ghana and the Federal Republic of Germany.


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