Bullet by bullet account of how Speaker Oquaye threw parliament into a state of confusion… As MPs sit to consider Finance Minister’s request to access Contingency Fund

Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, on Wednesday April 08, recalled the House after he suspended sitting indefinitely on Saturday April 4, 2020.

The recall was to enable the House to admit a policy statement by the minister of finance, Mr Ken Ofori Atta, under Standing Order 70(2), on the fight against the corona virus pandemic.

Mr Ofori Atta, in a paper presented to the House requested the August House to approve a total Ghc 1.2 billion for the Contingency Fund for the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP).

The Minister gave the following breakdown on how he was going to spend the whooping Ghc1. 2 billion: Ghc 40 million will go to buffer stock company, Ghc 200 million for water and sanitation, Ghc 241 million for tax waiver for health personnel and Ghc 80 million as allowance for health staff.

He added that Ghc 280 million will go into food packages and hot meals for the poor and vulnerable in society, Ghc two million for Ayalolo bus ride for health workers and Ghc 600 million for soft loans to businesses.

According to him the programme is to mitigate the disruption to economic activities and the hardships imposed on the people of Ghana by the coronavirus pandemic and to rescue and revitalise the economy that have fallen prey to the pandemic.

He noted that the program will help protect households and livelihoods, support micro, small and medium sized business, minimise job losses and provide additional funding for promotion of industries and also shore up and expand industrial output for both domestic consumption and exports.

The Rt. Hon. Speaker tasked the Finance Committee to work urgently on the request and submit its report to the plenary for the House to act with emergency to the benefit the welfare of the nation.

State of confusion

The August House was thrown in the state of confusion when the Speaker made a sharp u-turned over his initial pronouncement that sitting was suspended till members hear the sound of the ‘Parliamentary bell’ to the house suspended indefinitely.

Speaker Oquaye’s ‘the house is suspended indefinitely pronouncement sent members to the wonder land as members were seen in groups wondering what was happening to the Speaker.

According to some members, this reporter spoke to, explained that the ideal thing for the speaker to do was to allow the finance committee to finish their work and report back to the plenary for the committee if the whole to give approval.

But per Speaker Oquaye’s final pronouncement that the House was suspended indefinitely, the approval to grant the finance minister’s request to spend Ghc1. 2 billion from the contingency fund was left solely in the hands of the finance committee of Parliament.

Earlier, the Speaker read to the House a communication from His Excellency the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo nominating the Member of Parliament for Ledzokuku in the Greater Accra Region Dr Bernard Okoe-Boye as the Deputy Minister designate for the Health Ministry.

Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye subsequently referred his nomination to the Appointments Committee for vetting and report.

Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH
Writer’s email: franklinadonkoh@gmail.com

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