Parliament Rejects NDC COVID-19 Motion
ATTEMPTS BY opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) lawmakers to tighten the noose on the government to make it unpopular were defeated yesterday when Parliament rejected their motion and asked for the constitution of a bipartisan committee to investigate the COVID-19 related expenditure.
The motion, sponsored by three NDC MPs, namely Haruna Iddrisu (Minority Leader), Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka (Asawase) and Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson (Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam), demanded that the bipartisan parliamentary committee, to be chaired by a member of the Minority Caucus, should enquire into the expenditures made by Ghana Government in relation to COVID-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020.
The NDC MP for Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam moved the motion for the adoption of the House, which was seconded by the NDC MP for Asawase, asserting that the government exceeded the amount of GH¢1.2 billion approved by the House for Coronavirus Alleviation Programme.
Dr. Ato Forson alleged the government spent GH¢8.122 billion and said the Finance Ministry was yet to provide details of the expenditures.
However, MPs belonging to the ruling administration blocked the motion, questioning the propriety of the motion before the House, and describing it as mischievous with the intention to score cheap political points.
Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, who raised the preliminary objection, stated that such a move would amount to usurping the powers of the Auditor General and that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is seized with the power and mandate to undertake such investigation on behalf of Parliament.
First Deputy, Joseph Osei-Wusu, having regard to arguments for and against the motion, ruled that “my view is that this motion ought not to have been admitted, and it is improperly before the House. I so rule.”
He explained that, “If I understand the preliminary objection correctly, it seeks to suggest that the motion ought not to have been admitted and therefore, a question of the propriety of the motion before the House.”
“And in presenting the preliminary objection, the Hon Member draws the House’s attention to the constitutional imperatives,” he said.
He read Order 191 of the Standing Orders which says, “The House may at any time by motion appoint a Special or Ad Hoc Committee to investigate any matter of public importance or to consider any bill that does not come under the jurisdiction of any of the Standing or Select Committees of the House.”
“The matters that we are called upon to set a committee to investigate, can we say they do not come under any of the select or standing committees of the House?” Mr. Osei-Wusu asked rhetorically.
“In my view, it falls squarely within the Public Accounts Committee and indeed, all the committees of the House, including the Public Accounts Committee, are bipartisan, and the Public Accounts Committee, by nature, is designed to be chaired by the Minority.”
“So in all its forms, all the questions related to the Public Accounts, if it is minded to investigate anything related to the COVID-19 expenditure, is fully seized with the authority and power to investigate that, particularly because all the counting of it has been provided for by the budget, which is before the House and before the committee,” he intimated.