Lay particulars on debt exchange before Parliament for scrutiny : Minority Leader urges Finance Minister
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, has called on the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, to lay before Parliament the particulars on debt exchange for Ghanaians to appreciate the efforts being made to handle the debt crisis facing the country.
“If you are having haircuts and you are changing contents of agreements, whether domestic or external agreements, they are contractual and those contractual comes with obligations,” he said.
Mr Iddrisu, who is also the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Tamale South in the Northern Region, made the call on the floor of Parliament last Tuesday.
He said Mr Ofori-Atta must lay a paper in the House on how he intended to “walk on the external debt”.
“Because when this House approves those loan agreements, we approve them in consistence with Article 181 on terms and conditions which you cannot vary them at your pleasure or as it pleases a certain Minister of Finance.
“Those terms and conditions must be brought to this House for our scrutiny to satisfy ourselves that he can go forward doing what is debt exchange,” he said.
Mr Iddrisu told the House that the information available to him on debt exchange was “worrying”.
“Even the debt exchange of the minister is almost being boycotted,” he said and urged the Finance Minister to go before the House to inform members about how many people had signed on to it to save the economy.
Touching on budget estimates, Mr Iddrisu, who expressed concern over the low attendance of Majority MPs in the House currently, said parliamentary scrutiny of the budget remained legislators’ primary responsibility.
He, therefore, said for members to come every now and then and be told that reports on budget estimates were not ready was not acceptable.
The leader indicated that the committees that had completed their work on the estimates must bring their report for consideration and approval .
Warning that ministers who wanted their budget approved must appear before the committees in person and should not delegate.
Mr Iddrisu said Parliament must begin to work towards appropriation since the “attitude of stampeding us with several reports at a time does not allow for proper scrutiny”.
Reacting to the staff level agreement reached with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at a press conference in Parliament, the Minority Leader said the staff level agreement was not enough as a way out of Ghana’s debt crisis.
He said a management and board approval by the IMF board, which might probably take up to April or beyond next year, was what the country needed the most.
“And therefore, with this stand level agreement, I see them dancing and celebrating prematurely,” he said.
Allay your fears
Responding, the Vice Chairman of the Finance committee, Patrick Yaw Boamah, gave an assurance that all those requisite documents on debt exchange would be subjected to parliamentary scrutiny.
“The first step is what has been announced and every step that requires the people’s representatives to look at I believe, we will have the opportunity to do so.
“So, I want the Minority Leader to be rest assured to allay his fear,” he stated.