The Vice Chairman of Parliament’s Finance Committee, Patrick Yaw Boamah, has assured that details of government’s debt exchange programme will be brought to Parliament for approval.
His assurance followed the Minority caucus’ renewed calls for the Finance Minister to put the programme before Parliament for legislative scrutiny.
Before seconding a motion for adjournment yesterday, the Minority Leader and MP for Tamale South, Haruna Iddrisu, said the decision to vary Ghana’s public debt could not be at the beck and call of the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, and that Parliament had a role to play.
“With the debt exchange, they must lay the details here for the people of Ghana.
“The Minister of Finance cannot just walk (about) as if everything in the country is determined by him. If you are doing haircuts and changing contents of agreement, whether domestic or external, they are contractual and those contractuals come with obligations.
“He must come and lay a paper in this House on how he intends to walk the debts,” Mr Iddrisu said.
According to him, “when this House approves those agreements, we do so consistent with Article 181 of the 1992 Constitution with terms and conditions. You can’t vary those terms at your pleasure or as it pleases the Minister of Finance. Those terms and conditions must be brought to this House for our scrutiny to satisfy ourselves,” he reiterated. Responding to the concerns of the Minority Leader, Mr Boamah, MP, Okaikoi Central said Parliament would not be left in the dark in relation to the programme.
“All those requisite documents would be subjected to parliamentary scrutiny.
“The first step is what has been announced. Every step that requires the scrutiny of the people’s representative, we will have the opportunity to look at that.
“ want him (the Minority Leader) to be rest assured and to allay his fears that (Parliament would not be left out in the debt exchange programme), “ Mr Boamah stressed.
Mr Iddrisu, meanwhile has threatened that ministers who fail to avail themselves during the consideration of estimates for their ministries would have themselves to blame.
“If you delegate your deputy, we will delegate your money for you some other day after the passage of the Appropriation Bill,” he stated. The House for the second day running adjourned barely 30 minutes into proceedings with the plenary recording a very low turnout.
This, the Majority Chief Whip and MP for Nsawam/Adoagyiri, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, explained was as a result of the various committees’ consideration of the budget estimates for the ministries, departments and agencies.
The approval or otherwise of the estimates would commence today as the House races against time to get the approval of the budget over the line before it rises sine die on December 21 for the Christmas.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI