Majority, Minority clash over Finance Minister’s absence in Parliament

The Majority and Minority Chief Whips, Frank Annoh-Dompreh and Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, yesterday clashed over the ‘continuous’ absence of the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, in Parliament to answer questions from Members of the House.

Mr Frank Annoh-Donpreh

This followed an allegation by the Minority Chief Whip and the NDC MP for Asawase that Mr Ofori-Atta had treated the House with disdain for refusing to avail himself to the House to answer the questions, an allegation Mr Annoh-Dompreh, NPP MP for Nsawam Adoagyiri had dismissed.

In an application to the Speaker to direct the Finance Minister to avail himself, Alhaji Muntaka said some of the questions programmed for the Finance Minister had been pending for eight months, a practice he said defied the Standing Orders of the House.

“Mr Speaker, I find this very unacceptable because the Finance Minister can get time to be going round the country doing town-hall meetings yet he doesn’t want to come to this house to answer to the representatives of the people,” Alhaji Muntaka said.
The acceptable time limit for ministers to answer questions in Parliament is two weeks of notice “but Mr Speaker some of these questions have been pending for eight months.

“My fear is that if we keep accommodating the Finance Minister, these questions would never be answered.

“If he cannot get the time to do the work, he should tell the President that he doesn’t want to be the Finance Minister but if he truly wants to remain the Finance Minister, he should be answerable to the House and not to be giving excuses,” Alhaji Muntaka submitted.

Dismissing the claims, Mr Annoh said Mr Ofori-Atta accords Parliament with the utmost respect as a co-equal arm of government with the mandate to check on the executive.

“The Finance Minister has not, on any occasion, refused to attend upon this House to answer questions advertised in his name.

“He has respected this House and I will plead with my colleagues to acknowledge that respect he has accorded this House,” he said.

Leadership, he disclosed, had come to an agreement that any minister who would be unable to be in Parliament a day before must communicate to the House, and attach to it a new date he or she would be available.

Consequently, he said a correspondence from the minister on why he would not be able to be in Parliament had been received by leadership.

He asked the Minority to exercise restraint for the correspondence to expire for a decision to be taken.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI


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