Minority stages walkout, hints of challenging decision

The Minority caucus in Parliament has hinted it would challenge the passage of the Electronic Transfer Levy (E-Levy) at the appropriate forum after it walked out on its approval in the House yesterday. 

Minority Leader and MP for Tamale South, Haruna Iddrisu, said their colleagues in the Majority did not have the required numbers pursuant to Article 104 of the 1992 Constitution to pass the bill. 

“The Majority, following the walkout of the Minority, did not constitute a voting quorum as required…and the lucid judgement of the Supreme Court in the Justice Abdulai matter. 

“We intend to file to question the legitimacy of the decision of less than one-half of members taking a decision to approve E-Levy at second reading following our walkout and at third reading which is required,” Haruna Iddrisu told journalists in Accra yesterday.

He held that with the Dome Kwabenya MP, Sarah Adjoa Safo, absent and the Ahanta West member, Ebenezer Kojo Kum, waiting in a vehicle within the precincts of Parliament to be brought into the chamber if it came to voting, the Majority had less than one-half (138) of the 275 members to take a decision. 

“Therefore, every decision that they took with 136 members, flies as a sin against the ruling of the Supreme Court,” which held that Article 104 applies specifically and exclusively to voting to determine a matter in parliament. 

“Except as otherwise provided in this Constitution, matters in Parliament shall be determined by the votes of the majority of members present and voting, with at least half of all the members of Parliament present,” Article 104 provides. 

According to Haruna, their decision to walkout was to “disenable” the majority from passing the E-Levy having noticed that with one of their member, the embattled representative of Assin North unavoidably absent, they may be outnumbered by the Majority Group if it came to a headcount. 

The Constitution, Haruna Iddrisu said, provided elaborate roadmap for the consideration of Bills from first reading to third reading; a roadmap he said have not been followed in the “purported” approval of the E-Levy. 

“Their supposed E-Levy Bill was subjected to a third reading with less than one-half of all members. We are very convinced that there is no E-Levy.” 

He could not fathom how the rejection of the budget with 137 members could be unconstitutional yet approval of E-Levy with 136 members could be legal. 

“When they complained about the procedural motion of 137 claiming a minister of state has asked to stay off the voice vote (on November 27), their intention is what we have also now intended. They said we were 137. They are less than 137.

“We are convinced that Majority of 137 in the chamber conducting business only proceeded on illegal and unconstitutional business which is a sin against article 104 as interpreted by the Supreme Court as a nullity in the Justice Abdulai matter. We call it a charade and we are convinced about it,” he stated. 

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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