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Some MPs sit at coffee shop without coming to the chamber—Minority Chief Whip

Minority Chief Whip Mohamed Muntaka Mubarak has lamented the practice in Ghana’s Parliament where lawmakers come to the House and they do not enter the chamber to register their names but will sit at the coffee shop.

According to him he does not want to mention names because such MPs do not even go for Committee meetings yet they will go and say they came to Parliament, “you know we have those challenges”.

Mohamed Muntaka Mubarak

“Let us have the biometric system where, when you enter through the entrance your bio is taken and the time you are leaving it is also taken and is able to record. My colleague Nitiwul was a deputy leader, when we said Committees should not sit before parliament itself sites they should wait for us to start sitting, so that they will come into the chamber when we start sitting before they go for their committee meetings, or if they start early and see the chamber has started they suspend let members come and register and go back and work to avoid “I was in a committee and mark absent”.

 And a lot of MPs want to take undue advantage of saying, ‘I have come, I am in my office, why should I be marked absent’; “come into the chamber, our standing orders says when we start and we do not have the numbers we have to close the House it is humiliating when we do not have the numbers to do business but the following day we have more than the numbers we required to do business”.

Mr. Muntaka further pointed out to the former deputy majority leader and Member of Parliament (MP) for Bimbilla that subsequent Speakers have ruled on the matter and there is no need going back to the same issue, because if you are not in the chamber you are marked absent.

And gave an example that he was at a Committee meeting and noticed there was work going on in the chamber, but it became necessary for him to be at the Committee meeting so he had to fill a form of absent in order not be marked absent.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Mark MPs who attend committee meetings as present in parliament —Nitiwul

Member of Parliament (MP) for Bimbilla Bingab Aduna Dominic Nitiwul is advocating for lawmakers who attend Committee meetings for which reason they could not attend to proceedings in the chamber to be captured as being present in votes and proceedings of the House.

According to him MPs are being chastised by their constituents for being absent in the chamber whiles in fact they were present in the House attending to business of the House which equally is parliamentary duty, but when the votes and proceedings are presented they are marked as absent.

“Does it mean that until you enter this chamber you have not come to Parliament, if I am a member of the Finance Committee and they start their work at 9:00am and I come to work and for some reason Parliament sit for thirty minutes and I am unable to come to the plenary to register?”

The former deputy majority leader, pointed out on Friday July 22, 2022 queried that “when a  lawmaker is within the premises of Parliament working, are we saying that person did not come to Parliament for that day and has not done his work for his constituent to have a problem with him?”

Mr. Dominic Nitiwul emphasised on the need to take a second look at the issue since it is becoming a problem as Ghana’s Parliament takes its tradition from the British Parliament and sometimes when one observes their parliament on television only 6 MPs are working.

And he believes there are good reasons that those who attend Committee meetings their names are captured in the votes and proceedings as present, “why can’t we allow such people to be marked present as well?”

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Mid-Year budget to be presented today Monday July 25, 2022 at 1:00pm

The Mid-Year Review of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government and Supplementary Estimates for the 2022 Financial Year presentation to Parliament has been rescheduled to Monday, July 25, 2022 at 1:00pm.

Mrs Abena Osei-Asare, Deputy Finance Minister, speaking to the Parliamentary Press Corps, said the change in date for the presentation of the Mid-Year Budget Review from Wednesday, July 13, as earlier announced to Monday, 25th July, was necessitated by the ongoing engagement between the Government of Ghana and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Deputy Minister said the current mission of the IMF was data collection, just like doing an audit.

“So, clearly as humans as we are, we should all understand that in this data finding mission of the IMF, we need that space and time to address that and give them (the needed data), once we are done, July 25, we will come to Parliament and do the Mid-Year Budget Review,” she said.

She said per the Public Financial Management Law (Act 921), they have up to July 31 to present the mid-year review budget, so it was still within the law.


WAEC is cash trapped; Gov’t yet to release money for conduct of WASSCE – Nortsu-Kotoe

The Ranking Member on the Education Committee of Parliament, Peter Nortsu-Kotoe said government would have to make a quick intervention to the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) to enable the council conduct these year’s WASSCE.

The Ranking at a press briefing in parliament on Friday, July 22, 2022 disclosed that WAEC is cash trapped as government is yet to release money to it. He stated that as at July 1 this year, the Ministry of Education and for that matter the government of Ghana owed WAEC a total of 23million Ghana Cedis, comprising arrears of GHC7,221,755 for the conduct of Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in 2021, as well as 15, GHC790,072 as areas for WASSE for the same year.

For this year, government is to release GHc96, 694,432.40 to WAEC for the conduct of WASSCE which starts from August 1 to September 27, 2022. But the government is yet to release any money to WAEC.
He said per their information, if WAEC is not provided at least 6million Ghana cedis before the first of August to start the practical and orals, they would be forced to postpone the examination.

Regrettably, he said the other four countries that constitute WAEC including Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia have all conducted their Examination for 2022 already and what we are going to write is ‘Ghana WASSCE’. He asserts that any situation that leads to the postponement of the examination has dire consequences on the candidates.

He also expressed worry of how the invigilators, script checkers and supervisors would bring themselves to working again since they have not been paid for last year’s job done. The Minority side of the Committee therefore called on government to as a matter of urgency release money to the council to conduct the examinations.

Dominic Shirimori/Ghanamps.com

BoG reserve dropped from $9.70bn to $7.68bn, not to $3bn – Kwarteng

The Bank of Ghana’s (BoG) foreign reserves has declined from $9.7 billion to about $7.63 billion at the close of June 2022 and not to $3bilion as contained in the Finance Committees report on the $750million Loan Facility Agreement between the Government of Ghana and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) as approved by parliament. The Chairman of the Finance Committee of Parliament, Kwaku Kwarteng disclosed this on the floor of the House on Friday, July 22, 2022 when he sort to correct the error as contained in the Finance Committee’s Report for the Approval of the $750million AfreximBank loan.

The Chairman in a statement said “we reported that the international reserves of the Bank of Ghana had declined from US$9billion to US$3billion. Mr. Speaker, this was an error, it was an unfortunate oversight. According to the Bank of Ghana, the Gross International Reserves of the country was US$9.70 billion at the close of December 2021.

Majority Leader interacting with chairman of Finance Committee

This declined to US7.68billion at the close of June 2022”.
In terms of net international reserves, he said “the country closed December 2021 with $6.08 billion. This position declined to $3.58 billion at the close of June 2022”. “Mr. Speaker, the error is regretted and I request the Clerk at Table to ensure that all the records are accordingly corrected,” he told the House, and apologized for the blunder.

The Minority however, raised strong objections at the decision of Mr Kwarteng to apologise and correct the earlier figures contained in the Finance Committee’s report. The Minority questioned the integrity of the entire House as it had approved the $750 million loan based on the alarming figures of the Central Bank’s reserves and the urgent need to support the 2022 budget.

Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson, the Ranking Member of the Finance Committee said he was not privy to the procedure where a statement could amend a committee’s report after the committee’s report had been adopted and subsequently approved. He said the $3 billion decline reserves that the Finance Committee’s report captured did not just surface, as it was contained in a statement from the Finance Minister during a meeting with the Committee.

“Mr Speaker, I was in that meeting and it was the Minister of Finance who made that statement and our Clerks of Parliament have responsibility to capture exactly what the minister said and the report was signed by the Chairman of the committee. I do not think it is the chairman who has to amend this figure; if for any reason the information we have on record is different from what the central bank has it is for the BoG to issue a statement to correct same if it is not same,” he stated.

Consequently, the House agreed to stand the correction down until Monday, July 25, 2022 when the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, is to appear before Parliament to present the Mid-Year Budget Statement and also confirm the data and figures as Mr. Kwarteng sought to correct.

Dominic Shirimori/Ghanamps.com

Ashanti MPs caucus demands action on development projects

The Ashanti caucus of Members of Parliament is to meet the President, Nana Akufo Addo to draw his attention to the number of stalled projects in the region for quick response to their completion. Flanked by his colleagues MPs from the region, Mr. Kwame Anyimedu addressing the press in parliament on Thursday, July 21, 2022 said some constituencies including Kwabre East, Bantama, Atwima Nwanbiegya North and South, Kwadaso, Asante Akim North among others are besieged with the concerns of poor road networks.
He said the poor state of the roads and other development challenges in the region is creating disaffection between the citizenry and the Members of Parliament in the region. This, he noted, found expression in the unfortunate violent reaction by the people of Suame towards their Member of Parliament and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu when he was hooted at, pelted with stones and sachet water during a visit to the area.

Though they acknoeledged that some significant works had been done in the region which they are grateful for, they said a lot needs to be done; stating that for most of the projects the contractors have not been on site and people are calling on them (MPs) to ensure the projects are completed. The Caucus highly condemned the act by the constituents, stating that it is not the case that resources were made available to Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu to use for the region and he failed to deliver.

Mr. Anyimedu assured that their discussion with the leadership of government would be centered around roads, IPEC projects, and all projects coming up under the Middle Belt Development Authority.
He expressed optimism that when these projects are completed their constituents would regain their confidence in the government. He said discussions have always been going on with respect to these projects, and it is just a matter of time for them to start seeing results.

According to him, it is not that they are looking on unconcerned, “it was just unfortunate that this Suame issue should be addressed in such a manner”. He added that the issue of the Suame interchange had been in parliament including other roads, “and yesterday parliament approved a loan to actually undertake these projects, inclusive of Konongo – Ejisu Road to be dualized”.

Dominic Shirimori/Ghanamps.com

Sanitation and Water Resources Ministry outlines steps to address water pollution in Ghana

The Minister for Sanitation and Waters Resources, Cecilia Abena Dapaah on Wednesday, July 20, 2022 outlined measures her Ministry has taken to address water pollution in the Country.

According to her water bodies are being polluted mainly by ‘galamsey’ activities in mining areas of the country, while other non-point sources of pollution stem from improper disposal of both solid and liquid waste causing rapid growth of algae and aquatic weeds, which further affect water quality.

The Ministry’s efforts through the Water Resources Commission to address water pollution in the country include the Nationwide Water Quality Monitoring program being implemented towards data collection and information gathering to continually establish the quality status of all waters in the country and contribute to the national initiative for controlling the unregulated activities of small-scale miners (‘galamsey’).

Another measure according to the minister is the strengthening of the legislative regime relating to buffer protection and pollution control. The Buffer Zone Legislative Instrument is being drafted after completion of a nationwide consultation and the regulations should be ready by the end of the year, 2023. The development of a Water Resources Pollution Control and Effluent Discharge LI has also been initiated to regulate and improve on water quality.

The Minister emphasized that training, education and the active participation of relevant stakeholders are also complementing the enforcement. Training is targeted at relevant security personnel (especially investigators and prosecutors) on all relevant legislation; chiefs; the media; and civil society organisations, at the Regional and Basin levels on all aspects of managing water resources and the environment.

 A key intervention is the introduction of security posts in catchments that serve as water supply sources. Currently, the Weija Headworks has a permanent security post, the impacts are being monitored in order to replicate in other reservoirs.

Answering question posed by the Member of Parliament for Dormaa East Paul Apreku Twum-Barimah; she further noted that, water resources management is being implemented within a decentralised institutional framework by creating co-coordinating bodies at the River Basin level.

 So far, 6 River Basin Densu, White Volta, Ankobra, Pra, Tano Basins and the Black Volta have decentralised Secretariats and their Boards have also been set up. In addition, prioritised list of actions and measures are being implemented to address each Basin’s specific water management issues and improve the quantity and quality of the water resources. The Commission is also developing sub-Basin plans at the community level to assist in pollution control.

These notwithstanding, Mr Speaker, there is the realization to adopt and promote a Prevention Culture as the preferred option, she emphasised.

In essence, prevention of water pollution actions such as the institution of community mining by the government will help to sustain the ecological health of water bodies since water clean-up or treatment can be more complex and expensive in tackling water pollution from illegal mining in the country.


Public Account Committee holds public hearing

The Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday, July 20, 2022  considered the Auditor General’s Report on the Public Accounts of Ghana: Public Boards, Corporations, and other Statutory Institutions for the period ended 31st December 2019.

The MP for Abuakwa North and Deputy Minister of Education led the Ministry of Education Departments, Agencies cited in the Auditor General’s Report to answer queries posed by the Committee. These include the following. Ghana Institute of Journalism ( GIJ), University of Development Studies( UDS), Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration ( GIMPA) University of Education, Winneba( UEW), Ghana Science Association ( GSA) , Encyclopedia African Project ( NEP), Students Loan Trust Fund ( GTF ).

The University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) and Ghana Education Trust Fund (GET FUND failed to appear before the PAC today and has been rescheduled for tomorrow hearing.


Parliament approves $750,000,000.00 for Capital Expenditure

Seven Hundred and Fifty Million United States Dollars ($750,000,000.00) has been approved to Finance Capital and Growth Related Expenditures in the 2022 Budget. Parliament on Wednesday, July 20, 2022 approve the loan facility agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana (Represented by the Ministry of Finance), and African Export-Import BanK (Afreximbank) in accordance Article 181 of the Constitution, Section 56 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) and Order 169 of the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana.

The US$750 million Afrexim Facility would be used to finance the following projects;
• Ofankor-Nsawam Road – 200,000,000
• Ejisu – Konongo Road – 79,000,000
• Completion of Nsawam Apedwa Road Project – 10,000,000
• Suame Interchange and Local Road Network project – 47,000,000
• Completion of Flower Pot Interchange, Legon–Accra – 35,000,000
• Completion of Sofoline Interchanee – 35,000,000
• Construction of Kwabenya-Peduase Road Project – 10,000,000
• Completion of Eastern Corridor Lots 5 and 6 – 70,000,000
• Completion of Enkyikrom-Adawso Road Project – 98,000.000
• Purchase of Rolling Stock and Spare part – 30,000,000
• Construction of Stadia Infrastructure for all African Games – 140,000,000

Chairman of the Finance Committee, Kwaku Kwarteng presenting the Committee’s report for approval indicated that aside the loan being used to finance critical infrastructure projects in the 2022 budget, the “approval of the facility will also enable government meet its revenue projections in the budget and support government’s liability management and ensure exchange rate stability”.

The Finance Committee report asserts that the arrangement for this facility has become necessary because of the decision by Government not to use the capital market to raise financing until market conditions improve.

“Additionally, the increasing withdrawal of non-resident investors in Ghana’s domestic bond market with its implications for the level of reserves of the Bank of Grana and foreign exchange management generally requires the injection of additional foreign currency to shore-up the country’s reserve to enable it meet obligations when they fall due”.


Health Committee encourages citizens to take the COVID-19 vaccination

Ghanaians have been urged to avail themselves for the COVID-19 vaccination which is still ongoing in the country. The parliamentary Select Committee on Health at a press briefing bemoaned the low turnout in the vaccination exercise against the COVID-19 virus, and encouraged people who are yet to be vaccinated to do so. The Chairman of the Committee, Dr. Nana Ayew Afriye said though the country has opportunity to vaccinate over 22 million people, only 18 million has been vaccinated so far.

Members of the Health Committee

He blamed peoples refusal on superstition and some several other reasons.
The said in view of this, the health committee is touring the vaious regions begining tomorrow to campaign for the citizens to get vaccinated. The Ranking Member of the Committee, the Ranking Member, Mr. Minta Akandoh said the virus has come to stay and it is important to take appropriate measures to avoid any new wave so that we can properly return to our normal lives.

He said data available to the committee indicates that the vaccination rate in some regions of the country including Oti, Volta, Eastern, Western North, and Ashanti Regions is very low, particularly in the rural districts where health infrastructure is very weak, posing danger to the citizens living in those areas.

According him in the event of any new wave in those places, the effect would be devastating, adding that “whether we like it or not we would witness another wave of COVID-19” like it is happening in other countries. He debunked the conspiracy theories surrounding the vaccines stating that all parliamentarians have submitted themselves to the vaccination exercise including many other Ghanaians and they are doing well, as such people should not fall for such deceits from people.

He called on the Ministry of Health to begin to do more by making the vaccines available at the districts to enable people access it, and not wait for any emergency before responding to it.