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Parliament fails to approve loan agreement for second time in two weeks

BY: Nana Konadu Agyeman
Parliament fails to approve loan agreement for second time in two weeks
Parliament fails to approve loan agreement for second time in two weeks

For the second time in the second session of the 8th Parliament, the lack of quorum in the House compelled the House to arrest the approval of two major loan agreements within two weeks.

For the first time, the House failed to approve a €38 million loan agreement meant for the construction of three 40-bed capacity district hospitals due to lack of quorum on Thursday, March 10, 2022.

The failure to approve the agreement between the government of Ghana and the Deutsche Bank of Frankfurt came after the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Tamale Central, Mr Ibrahim Murtala Muhammed, raised an objection on lack of quorum.

He had made an application to the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, who was presiding, that the House did not have a quorum and therefore proceedings should be adjourned.

At today’s sitting, which was presided over by the Second Deputy Speaker, Mr Andrew Asiamah Amoako, the House also failed to approve a €20 million agreement between the government of Ghana and the German Development Bank Group, Frankfurt.

Objective of loan

The amount is to finance the Green Credit Line under the Reform and Investment Partnership between the government of Ghana and the Federal Republic of Germany.

The loan, which seeks to expand Ghana’s access to renewable energy, among others, is part of the G20 Compact with Africa and will be repaid in 32 years at an interest rate of 0.75 percent with a grant element of 53.2 percent.

The overall objective of the project is to achieve the national target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2030 and achieving a renewable energy (RE) share of 10 percent of the total energy mix (excluding hydroelectric power plants).

The project will also contribute to the development of a sustainable green finance market as one of the preconditions for promoting RE and energy efficiency market in Ghana.

Why no approval?

The inability of the House to endorse the agreement came after the Minority raised an objection on the lack of quorum due to the limited number of members in the House.

The objection came soon after the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Mr Kwaku Kwarteng, had presented the committee’s report on the facility and moved the motion for the House to approve the agreement.

The Minority Chief Whip, Mr Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, raised objection on the lack of quorum and suggested that the Speaker caused the bell to be rung for 10 minutes to draw members from both sides of the House into the Chamber.

“If quorums are raised, you cannot negotiate them out,” he said, and after a while suggested that the loan approval be deferred for both sides of the House to mobilize their members on Friday.

“Believe me that any attempt to carry on would create problems for all of us. I agree that this is a grant that is coming to us as a country at almost free of charge,” the MP for Asawase stated.

Let’s compromise

Reacting, the Majority Chief Whip, Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh, informed the House that prior to the commencement of business in the House today, the leadership engaged in extensive consultation for the motion on the agreement to be moved and passed.

While he however agreed that the bell be rung, he urged the House to look at the agreement from the perspective that it would improve Ghana’s renewable energy mix aspirations.

“We are masters of our own rules, and I only want to plead with my colleagues that a motion has been moved; let’s wait for it to be second and then we can debate it.

“It is very important that we deal with this matter as it cannot be shelved. I am not contesting the issues raised; you are right and I am just pleading that we let go and get this thing passed,” he said.

He added that the agreement was time-dependent and it was important that the House got it passed.

“Please, do not forget that there are very important fiscal variables in this agreement and partners who are waiting on this agreement to be passed as it is almost like a grant.”

He was of the view that the overdependence on the national grid by public institutions such as educational institutions could be weaned off with the implementation of the project, with the national grid focused on supporting industries.

He, therefore, urged the House to support the loan approval.

Later, Mr Annoh-Dompreh conceded that while it was quite regrettable for an objection to be raised on the lack of quorum, “I would accede to the request by the colleague Muntaka that you do not put a question on the motion and we take it tomorrow.”