Ghana Parliament

The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu has shot down a private member’s motion filed by Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, and two others, calling for a Bi-partisan Committee to enquire into expenditures made by the Government in relation to COVID-19, since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020.

Moving the motion, Ranking Member on the Finance Committee, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson, who is a co-sponsor, said the Government spent well beyond the approved expenditure, hence the need for the enquiry.

The Majority side however raised a Preliminary Objection, arguing that the motion lacked merit and ought not to be admitted. The objection was upheld by the First Deputy Speaker. Correspondent Bubu Klinogo reports that the Private Members’ motion for Parliament to constitute a bi-partisan Parliamentary Committee chaired by a member of the Minority caucus to enquire into the expenditures made by the government of Ghana in relation to COVID-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020 was sponsored by the Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, Minority Chief Whip Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka and the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee, Dr. CassielAtoForson. The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, admitted the motion since last year and it had featured daily on the order paper but was never called to be moved.

At Tuesday’s sitting, the Majority Chief Whip, Frank Annoh-Dompreh prayed the Speaker, Alban Bagbin to vary the order of business to allow the private members’ motion to be moved.

The Ranking Member of the Finance Committee, Dr. Casiel Ato Forson got up to move the motion, but even before he could land, Deputy Majority leader, Alex Afenyo-Markin got up to raise some preliminary objections.

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According to him, the motion was borne out of mischief and should not be entertained. The Speaker Alban Bagbin however overruled him, on the basis that his objection was premature.

According to the Speaker, the motion ought to be admitted properly before the house, before any member could comment on it. That paved the way for the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, to second the motion, by reiterating the need for such a Committee, by which time the Speaker had vacated the Chair for the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu to take over.

With the motion moved and seconded, Mr. Afenyo-Markin now had the opportunity to make his argument.

The Minority Leader disagreed with the issues raised by Mr. Afenyo-Markin and called on the Speaker to dismiss the objection.

The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu also supported the arguments of his Deputy and prayed the Speaker to uphold the objection.

The First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu in his ruling observed that the call being made by the minority for a committee to enquire into the COVID 19 expenditure was misplaced. According to him, the Public Accounts Committee already performs that function and there was no need for a different Committee. He accordingly dismissed the motion.

Reactions from both sides:

Meanwhile, both Sides of the House have been reacting to what transpired on the Floor and the First Deputy Speaker’s ruling. The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, said his side is ”disappointed”.

According to him, the Majority and for that matter Government was simply running away from accountability.

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For his part, Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, said the Deputy Speaker’s ruling was ”a victory for due process”.

He said as much as the Majority is open for transparency and accountability if the right procedure must be adopted on a Private Members Bill calling for a Bi-partisan Committee to inquire into expenditures made by the Government in relation to Covid-19.

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