The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, has deferred the debate on the approval or otherwise of the US$895,433,941 Pwalugu multi-purpose dam project to Tuesday February 11, 2020.
The EPC/Turnkey contract agreement between the Government of Ghana and the Powerchina International Group Limited, pending Parliamentary approval, comes with a US$366 million 60 megawatt hydro power plant, a US$474 million 24,000 hectare irrigation scheme and a US$55 million 50MWac Solar Power Plant.
The deferral followed a disagreement between the Majority and Minority caucuses over procedures as to which committee had the mandate to consider the contract document and report to the House accordingly.
The Minority caucus contended that per provisions of Chapter 20 of Parliament’s Standing Orders, committees were mandated to handle contract which were under their purview and that overlooking the Energy and Agriculture Committees in considering the contract was a breach of the processes.
The contract which was up for approval on the final day of sitting in December last year had to be deferred to this meeting because of lack of time.
When the motion for the approval was moved in Parliament yesterday, the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, indicated that his side of the House would not be part of the approval of the contract if the “proper thing” was not done as he claimed.
To him the committees on Agriculture and Energy were best placed to consider the contract instead of the Finance Committee which solely considered the contract.
According to him, apart from invitation not extended to Minority Members on the Finance Committee, Members on the Majority side who were not at the meeting found their names “smuggled” into the attendance book to “probably get a quorum” to author the report which recommended the approval.
The Energy and Agric committees ought to have led the consideration with the assistance of the Finance Committee, he said and urged that the approval be suspended for the ‘relevant’ committees to scrutinise the deal.
But the Chairman of the Committee, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, MP, New Juaben South, said the procedure had not been breached because there were financial implications on the contract.
He said the Finance Committee had the mandate in line with Constitutional provisions to scrutinise financial deals on behalf of the state and advise Parliament on same.
The First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, said it was the choice of the Minority to stay away from the meeting and that their absence did not affect the work of the report of the Finance Committee which had recommended the approval of the contract.
After listening to the arguments, the Speaker, Prof. Oquaye said the referral in December was to the Finance Committee and leadership of the Energy and Agriculture committees and wondered why those committees were not part of the consideration.
Deferring the debate for lack of consensus, the Speaker urged both sides to go and do their research and come back with their arguments backed with facts for the approval or otherwise of the contract on Tuesday.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in November last year cut sod for the yet-to-be-approved project.
The Minority at a press conference in Accra on Wednesday, meanwhile, said the 60 megawatt Hydro-Power Plant deal has been inflated by three folds.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI