THE Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, has directed the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, to appear in the House on Wednesday March 13, 2019, to answer questions asked of him.
Speaker Oquaye gave the directive after it emerged that Mr Ofori-Atta, who was in the chamber for a long period on Tuesday, was unavailable to respond to the four questions by three members.
The directive followed objections raised by the Minority caucus over the persistent absence by the Finance Minister to respond to questions asked of him.
Ms Sarah Adwoa Safo, the Deputy Majority Leader, had explained that the Finance Minister was out of the country for which reason he was not in the House, adding that the Minister had communicated same to the House.
“When we saw the questions this morning was when we realized (the Minister’s) communication. Mr Speaker, we have a formal letter from the Minister indicating that he can’t be here today.
“The Minister is out of the jurisdiction with a few of his deputies,” Ms Safo, Dome-Kwabenya Member of Parliament, said, revealing that Mr Ofori-Atta in his letter had proposed to be in the House on Wednesday March 13.
But the Deputy Minority Leader, James KlutseAvedzi, found the excuse by her opposite colleague untenable.
In his view the Finance Minister had consistently and deliberately shunned the House, since coming into office.
“We always see the Minister here when he stands in the dispatch box to present budget statements,” Mr Avedzi observed, demanding that, “we now want to see him come to the dispatch box to answer questions.”
According to the Ketu North MP, the four questions “keep appearing on the order paper and disappearing” because the Minister had failed to avail himself with answers.
“We want to see him here, and not any of his deputies. He must come here himself to answer the questions,” Mr Avedzi demanded.
Listening to the arguments of both sides, Speaker Oquaye agreed with the Minority that the Finance Minister must be in the House in person on the day he had suggested in his letter.
“The Honourable Minister for Finance himself should come and answer the questions in accordance with the date suggested by his good self,” he ruled.
The questions expected to be answered by the soft spoken Finance Minister are from Bolgatanga Central MP, Isaac Adongo, who wants to know why the GCB Bank had not filed its audited financial statements with the Bank of Ghana and the Ghana Stock Exchange as at May 21, 2018.
Mr Adongo also wants to know how much government, through the Bank of Ghana, paid the GCB Bank for the takeover of selected assets and liabilities of UT and Capital Banks, giving full details of terms and conditions of any instrument used for the payments.
Two other MPs, Governs Kwame Agbodza and Michael Yaw Gyato, Adaklu and Nkwanta East respectively, are also seeking answers to whether or not the Paperless Port concept had increased the cost of doing business at the ports and the amount paid version on every GH¢100 transaction on mobile money transaction.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI