It appears that the Business Committee of Parliament is helping the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, not to appear before the House to account for President Akufo-Addo’s use of a private jet for his recent trips to Europe and South Africa.
This is the view of the Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who has threatened to initiate a vote of censure against the Minister if he continues to delay in coming before the House to render accounts.
The legislator filed two urgent questions on the use of a private jet for President Akufo-Addo’s trips instead of the presidential jet.
The questions, which were admitted by the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin on June 1, 2021 had the first part that had to do with the airworthiness of the presidential jet answered by the Minister for Defence, Dominic Nitiwul.
On the day Ken Ofori-Atta was expected to answer his part of the question, Ablakwa was informed that the Minister had requested for more time to furnish the House on the cost of President Akufo-Addo’s recent trips.
The question was subsequently taken off the Business Statement of Parliament, although the Minister had about two weeks earlier to prepare for the response.
“With all due regard, I do not need to remind your esteemed committee that our Standing Orders under the provisions of Order 64 are unambiguous, that urgent questions have a strict window of ten working days within which they shall be responded to. That window has long elapsed.”
“It is imperative that an unfortunate impression is not created that the Parliament of Ghana is happy to undermine its own constitutional mandate of oversight by appearing to be assisting ministers to evade accountability and in the process weakening the democratic efficacy of the legislative arm.”
“I am also deeply concerned that Parliament seems to be creating a category of a Super Minister who is not subject to the Standing Orders of the august House. Why should the Finance Minister be given the latitude at his own whim to respond to an urgent question whenever he so desires?,” excerpts of Mr. Ablakwa’s memo to the Chairman of the Business Committee of Parliament, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu indicated.
The former Deputy Education Minister said the conduct of Ken Ofori-Atta regarding the question is unacceptable and must not be condoned in any way.
He said it was surprising how computing the bills of the president’s trip will be too complex to produce.
“May I humbly serve notice that if the current contumelious hijack of Parliament by the Finance Minister is allowed to fester, a good number of my colleagues and I will not hesitate to exercise our mandate under Article 82(2)(b) of the 1992 Constitution to initiate a Vote of Censure on the Finance Minister,” the Member of Parliament warned.
‘I haven’t rejected the question on the cost of Nana Addo’s travels; it will be answered’ – Bagbin
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, had earlier denied any complicity in the re-scheduling of the question on the cost of President Akufo-Addo’s travels to France, Belgium, and South Africa.
Speaking on the floor of the house, Alban Bagbin said the Finance Minister will definitely provide answers to the said question.
“Let me disagree with what has been put on social media that the honourable speaker rejected the questions. There is no iota of truth in that publication. The questions were admitted and forwarded to the ministers and the ministers have indicated to me their readiness to come and answer the questions, so it will be no problem. The business committee should do the right thing and get them programmed for the minister to come and answer.”
Read his full memo below: