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Speaker expresses disapproval over deputy’s ruling

BY: Nana Konadu Agyeman
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin

The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has expressed concern about the penchant of First Deputy, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, to overrule or dismiss rulings he, the Speaker, has made in the House.

He said such conduct was not only unconstitutional and illegal but also very offensive.

"It is interesting that this is the second time the First Deputy Speaker has taken the chair and has made a ruling which, in effect, was to overrule a position I had earlier established before the House,” he said.

Frustration

"The penchant of the First Deputy Speaker to overrule my rulings is to say the least, unconstitutional, illegal and offensive," he said while addressing the House yesterday.

The Speaker’s frustration stemmed from the decision by the First Deputy Speaker to throw out a private member’s motion by the Minority calling on Parliament to set up a bi-partisan committee to enquire and investigate COVID-19 expenditures by the government from 2020.

The motion by three NDC MPs, led by the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, had been admitted by the Speaker a month ago.

It was duly advertised and featured consistently in the Order Paper.

However, when the motion was moved on the floor last Tuesday by the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, and seconded by the Minority Chief Whip, Mr Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, the Majority objected to the motion.

Preliminary objection

Raising a preliminary objection to the motion, the Deputy Majority Leader, Mr Alexander Afenyo-Markin, said the mandate for a probe into any public expenditure was under the jurisdiction of the Public Committee.

Subsequently, the Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, prayed the Speaker to rule on the admissibility or otherwise of the motion.

Delivering the ruling, Mr Osei-Owusu said: "My view is that this motion ought not to have been admitted. It is improperly laid before the House.”

The Deputy Speaker’s ruling became the second occasion he had overturned the ruling of the Speaker.

The first time he did so was when he overturned the rejection of the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government in November 2021 by the House, a decision spearheaded by the Minority.

Working together

To foster smooth running of Parliamentary business, the Speaker told the House of his unwillingness to undo the action by his deputy, Mr Osei-Owusu.

"Be that as it may, I shall not be taking any steps to overrule the decision of the First Deputy Speaker to dismiss the motion.

"The Deputy Speakers and I will deliberate on how to present a more coherent and uniform structure in respect of rulings so that the House is guided at all times during deliberations."

Motion sponsors

Mr Bagbin urged the sponsors of the motion — the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, and Ranking Member on the Finance Committee, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson — to follow laid down procedure to have the motion refiled.