Pandemonium in Parliament as Finance Minister appears to deliver statement

Confusion broke out in Parliament yesterday when the Minister of Finance, Seth Terkper, appeared before the law-makers to deliver a statement on the impact of the fall in crude oil prices on the government’s 2015 budget.

The leadership of both sides of the House were divided over the procedure the Finance Minister chose to deliver his statement.

Before the Minister could take the podium, the Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, and some members from the Minority side interjected and prevented him.

The Majority Leader explained that the Minister’s visit was advertised in the Business Statement for the week and the previous day’s Order Paper as a motion, and not a statement.

He said the members were informed that the minister was going to move a motion for the approval of a new budget and not to deliver a statement.

Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu urged the Finance Minister to pass through the appropriate channel if he wanted to deliver a statement.

However, the Majority Leader, Alban Bagbin, told the House that the Minister’s visit was wrongly advertised in the Order Paper and explained that the Finance Minister’s message did not contain any information that required approval from the House.

Mr. Bagbin said there were precedence for the House to follow and added that previous Finance Ministers in 1999, 2002, and 2007, came to the House under similar procedures to brief the members on the state of the economy.

This generated chaos in the House, with some members banking their fists on the tables. The Speaker, Edward Adjaho, who was getting angry with the conduct of the members, threatened to invoke Order 100 if any member interrupted the proceedings.

Order 100 (1) states that “Mr. Speaker may order a member whose conduct is grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately from the House during the remainder of the day’s sitting and the Marshall shall act on those orders as he may receive from the Chair”.

Mr. Bagbin pleaded with the Speaker and called for a suspension of sitting for about 30 minutes for the issues to be ironed out between the two leaders.

When the House resumed after two hours, Mr. Terkper was allowed to deliver his statement to the House.

By Yaw Kyei

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