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This week in Parliament: Finance Minister, others to answer questions

BY: Samuel Duodu
Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin — Speaker of Parliament and Ken Ofori-Atta — Minister of Finance
Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin — Speaker of Parliament and Ken Ofori-Atta — Minister of Finance

Parliament is expected to be exceptionally busy this week as the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta and other ministers are expected to appear before the House to answer critical questions.

Apart from being summoned by the Speaker, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, to account for COVID-19 funds, Mr Ofori-Atta is also expected to answer 16 questions from Members of Parliament (MPs) on Friday, June 3, 2022.

This was after the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Kwaku Kwarteng moved the motion for the approval of €75 million for the COVID-19 health response project on Thursday (May 26, 2022).

Mr Bagbin noted that the House would only consider the loan after the Minister of Finance had given details of how previous loans were utilised.

This is about the fifth time the Finance Minister had been summoned by Parliament to come and provide answers to certain questions asked on the floor of the House but has not been able to honour them.

The Speaker said Parliament would invoke its powers if the Finance Minister failed to appear before the House to give account of how the COVID-19 monies were spent.

The Majority Chief Whip, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, who presented the Business Statement for the week to Parliament last Friday, May 27, said not less than 736 questions have been filed by MPs, adding that since the House resumed from recess MPs have started filing new questions reflecting the needs of their constituents.

“It is in the light of the above that the Business Committee urges Ministers of State to endeavour to attend upon the House to respond to questions whenever they are scheduled to do so,” he stated.

There are questions ranging from agriculture, roads, increases in petroleum products, the amount realised from the Eurobond issued in 2021, whether the government intends to return to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for financial assistance among other issues for the Finance Minister to respond to them.

Urgent questions

The urgent questions that are to be answered by the Finance Minister are in the name of the National Democratic Congress ( NDC) MP for Wa East, Godfred Seidu Jasaw; the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Ablekuma North, Sheila Bartels; NPP MP for Bortianor-Ngleshie-Amanfro, Sylvester Tetteh, and NDC MP for Bongo, Edward Abambire Bawa.

Mr Jasaw would want to know when the Ministry of Finance will issue financial clearance to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to clear the debt owed partners and suppliers to ensure availability of subsidised fertiliser in the farming season, while Ms Bartels’ question is to find out from the Finance Minister the current status of funding for the construction of PhaseTwo of the Tema Motorway, which has been highlighted as a major issue for commuters.

Mr Tetteh’s question is on the interventions the Ministry of Finance is employing to clamp down on the sustained increments in fuel prices as witnessed in the recent pricing windows, while that of Mr Bawa is on what the Ministry of Finance is doing to slow down the increases of petroleum product prices at the pumps with respect to imposed taxes and levies on petroleum products and the depreciation of the cedi.