The Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has decided to schedule an appropriate time for the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori Atta, to respond to questions on the cost of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s recent official visits to France, Belgium and South Africa.
The Deputy Majority Leader, Mr Alexander Afenyo-Markin, who announced this in Parliament last Friday, explained that there was no deliberate attempt by the leadership of the Business Committee of Parliament to give Mr Ofori Atta more time to make an appearance in the House to respond to the question.
The Second Deputy Speaker, Mr Andrew Asiamah Amoako, presided over proceedings last Friday.
“Mr Speaker, the question has not been answered not because the Finance Minister is asking for more time but it has been directed by Mr Speaker that he (Mr Bagbin) will schedule an appropriate time,” he stated.
Addressing Parliament last Friday on concerns raised by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for North Tongu on why the Finance Minister had been allowed to demand more time to come before the House to answer the question, Mr Afenyo-Markin said: “Take me for the record that it is Mr Speaker’s decision, not that of the Business Committee. The reason the Finance Minister is not here is because Mr Speaker has directed that he will see to it that he (Finance Minister) is scheduled to do so. So, it is not the case that the minister is asking for more time,” he stated.
Soon after presenting the business statement on the floor of the House, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa said he filed two questions which were admitted by the Speaker of Parliament on June 1, 2021.
He said while one of the questions was directed at the Minister of Defence, which was responded to on June 16, this year, the Minister of Finance was yet to respond to the other question about the cost of the President’s recent official visits to France, Belgium and South Africa.
He said on the day the question was to be answered on June 17, 2021, the House was informed that the Finance Minister had requested for more time.
“Consistently, I have sought to find out from the Business Committee what more time means and when the Finance Minister will comply with Order 64 of the Standing Orders of this House.
“On July 1, 2021, I wrote a memorandum to the Business Committee, drawing attention that if care is not taken it will appear as though there is a super minister who is above our Standing Orders and the laws of our country who can keep asking for more time in perpetuity,” he said.
He, therefore, requested the Deputy Majority Leader to tell the House “what exactly is going on and why a very special dispensation is created only for the Finance Minister who can keep asking for more time in perpetuity.”
In a similar reaction, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Dormaa East, Mr Paul Apraku Twum Barimah, also informed the House that he had also filed an urgent question relating to the cost of travel by former President John Mahama between the years of 2013 and 2016.
“It has not been represented on the business statement for the week and I want to find out what is the reason for that,” he asked.