|Parliament has constituted an eight-member ad-hoc committee to investigate allegations levelled against the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, by the Minority caucus for which they are calling for his removal. |
The committee will be co-chaired by Adansi Asokwa Member of Parliament Member (MP), Kobina Tahir Hammond, and Bolgatanga East MP, Dr Dominic Ayine, with other members as Okaikoi (MP), Patrick Yaw Boamah, Andrew Agyapa Mercer, Sekondi MP, and Kwame Anyimadu-Antwi, Asante Akim Central MP, all of New Patriotic Party (NPP), majority caucus.
The rest are Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, North Tongu MP, Dr Zanetor Rawlings, Klottey Korle MP, and Bernard Ahiafor, Akatsi South MP, all members of the National Democratic Congress, minority caucus.
The Constitution of the committee is pursuant to Standing Order 106(1) of the House which grants the legislature the mandate to consider such motion and come to a decision or refer it to a committee.
It has seven working days from yesterday to present its report to the plenary for debate and vote on whether or not Mr Ofori-Atta should be censured in line with Article 82 of the 1992 Republican Constitution.
The Minority has been pushing for the removal of the finance minister from office over allegations of conflict of interest, unconstitutional withdrawals from the Consolidated Fund, illegal payment of oil revenues into offshore accounts, deliberate and dishonest misreporting of economic data to Parliament, fiscal recklessness leading to the crash of the Ghana Cedi, incompetence and frightening ineptitude and gross mismanagement of the Ghanaian economy.
Moving the motion for the removal of the minister, on the floor of the House, in Accra, yesterday, the Minority Leader and MP for Tamale South, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, said “we disapprove of the performance of Ken Ofori-Atta who has ran the Ghanaian economy aground and he must take full responsibility for inflicting unparalleled and unprecedented hardship on Ghanaians and Ghanaian businesses.”
According to Mr Iddrisu, the Finance Minister in 2017 described the total national debt from independence which stood at GH¢120 billion as “colossal” but has driven same to GH¢522 billion by close of year, oversaw inflation increase from 15 per cent in January 2017 to 40 per cent today leading to astronomic hikes in goods and services, epileptic exchange rate regime and increased unemployment rate.
The Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, said it would be a travesty of natural justice if Mr Ofori-Atta, who was not in the House was not heard.
In the view of the Effutu MP, “by considering this motion, parliament will be encroaching on the province of the judiciary where it purports to sit and determine the veracity of the grievous allegations found in this motion and a parliamentary attack on fair hearing if this House proceeds to hear, debate and determine this motion without first putting in place a detailed procedure for hearing the minister in his defence.”
The Speaker, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, said the minister would be given an opportunity to defend himself and accordingly overruled the objection.
Seconding the motion, the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, said considering the performance of the finance minister, it was a democratic call on the House to vote to remove the minister from office.
The Majority Leader and MP for Suame, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, re-echoed the position of his deputy that the right for the embattled minister to be heard cannot be wished away and that “the preamble of this constitution obligates us to subscribe and commit to the rule of law.”
In his view, four of the seven reasons why the minority wants the finance minister censured have connotations of criminality and as they bother on criminality, the person accused must be given ample space to be heard.
Giving his ruling, the Speaker referred the matter to the ad-hoc committee and asked that their report is submitted to the House in seven days.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI