The five-member Ad-hoc Committee constituted by Parliament to investigate the alleged extortion of expatriates who participated in the recent Ghana Expatriates Business Awards (GEBA) will begin public sittings on the matter, tomorrow, Thursday, January 11, 2018.
The members of the committee, however, sat on Monday, January 8, 2018 to set out the modalities for their work.
Member of Parliament for Adentan and a member of the committee, Yaw Buaben Asamoah, said they were ready to thoroughly probe the issue in the best interest of the nation.
“We sat to establish the framework for delivering the onerous duty that Parliament has given us to discharge on behalf of the whole House.
The speaker in his wisdom decided that a bi-partisan committee deals with this matter as thoroughly as possible. That is progress; we haven’t had that opportunity for several years. We sat and set out the modalities,” he said.
Questions had been raised as to whether the committee’s sittings would be open to the public, as it had been the case during the investigations into the alleged bribery of members of the Appointments Committee in 2017.
However, the Adentan MP clarified that the committee’s sessions would be open to the public, with the first sitting set for Thursday.
He also stated that the committee will invite members of the minority who had called for the probe into the matter, the ministry of trade and any other parties that may be involved, to give their submissions on the issue.
“We’re going to have a public hearing which is akin to what we saw before and we’re starting on Thursday, and we’re going to invite the proponents of the motion as well as the ministry about who the motion was made and to the extent that other parties are relevant, we’ll extend our arms towards them,” he said.
The minority had expressed concerns after Parliament’s emergency sitting last week that the terms of reference for the committee had not been spelt out by the Speaker when it was convened.
However, Mr Buaben Asamoah dismissed these worries, stating that the committee was working with clearly defined terms of reference, which had originated from the motion submitted by the minority themselves.
“We are going to investigate the alleged levy and collection of sums of money from the expatriate community by the ministry of trade. Secondly, we are going to determine whether the payments were made, how, when and where they were paid out. We are also going to investigate collateral matters, any relevant issues and whether or not anything was done at variance with the law as far as levying or payment of those monies were concerned. We are covered. We do have terms of reference,” he added.
There was a heated argument on the floor of Parliament when the House sat to consider the motion filed by the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak Mohammed.
The debate came about after the Majority Leader, Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, described the motion as incompetent.
The majority leader had argued that, the motion calling for the special sitting and an ad-hoc committee, was not properly done and thus constituted a “gross abuse of the processes of the House,” a claim Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, vehemently rejected.
After a suspension of sitting for about an hour, the Speaker of Parliament announced that the committee would be formed ‘in the nation’s best interest,’ and invited by both the majority and the minority leaders to present their nominees for the ad-hoc committee.
Despite attempts to raise concerns about the committee’s terms of reference, both the majority and the minority were rebuffed by the Speaker, who refused to let either side make any further submissions on the committee.
While the minority was satisfied with the formation of the committee, the majority leader expressed reservations about not being allowed to express the issues his side had.
Story: Kofi OWUSU TAWIAH