November 25, 2015

Debate over the 2016 Budget and Economic Policy Statement of the Government of Ghana appears to be in jeopardy at least for now following a standoff that broke out between the Minority and Majority members of the House over quorum to begin government business.

For close to one hour, the issue of quorum was the subject matter on the floor of the House as members failed to find a common ground.

At the commencement of government, Member of Parliament for Tema East, Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover, coming under Order 48 (1) of the Standing Orders of the House, drew the First Deputy Speaker, Ebo Barton-Odro’s attention to the fact that the House ha no quorum to begin the deliberate over the government business.

Order 48 (1) of the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana states “The presence of at least one-third of all the Members of Parliament besides the person presiding shall be necessary to constitute a quorum of the House.”

But his argument was strongly objected to by the deputy Majority Leader and MP for Ashaiman, Alfred Agbesi who insisted that the House had the needed number to consider the government as advertised on the Order Paper.

The House was billed to begin debate on the motion of the 2016 Budget which was moved on Friday, November 13, 2015 by the Minister for Finance, Seth Terkper.

After back and forth argument over the matter, deputy Minority Leader, Dominic Nitiwul, pleaded with Hon. Barton-Odro, who presided over the affairs of the House for a headcount.

In all 93 members were present to begin the business of the day.

But the Minority was not convinced. They insisted that Ministers of State who were seated during the headcount were all captured and therefore called for a recount.

Their plea was again objected to by the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Mahama Ayariga, who argued that there was a clear deliberate attempt by the Minority to boycott to the debate on the 2016 Budget.2b41ada2-994b-4e04-a9c8-408d61c23fa9

He told the Speaker that per his checks, there were a good number of Minority members who were seated at the cafeteria either drinking tea or doing a different thing.

MP for Abuakwa, Samuel Atta, strongly countered the argument put forth by the Bawku Central legislator. He wondered why the Majority could bang their hopes on the numbers of the Minority to form a quorum knowing very well at least 92 members from the side (Majority) could have prevented any debate over the matter.

The Speaker after listening to the argument advanced by both sides of the House suspended sitting for ten minutes to enable the House find a common ground over the issue.

But checks conducted by suggest that there is more to the issue than the quorum being raised by the Minority members.

Inside sources say the Minority were peeved by the comments President Mahama made about them during one of his #ChangingLives tour.

The Minority had earlier accused the President of throwing the country into huge debt due to unbridled borrowing.

But the President in a sharp response dismissed the claim saying that all the loans receieved parliamentary approval.

He said if the Minority NPP was asking what the loans had been used for, then it means they have been sleeping in Parliament.

“You say we haven’t used the loans for anything and that we are misusing monies. Meanwhile every loan we take is taken through Parliament for approval so what have they been doing? Have they been sleeping?

“They approve the loans in Parliament; there is no single loan we have taken without taking it through Parliament; they should come and tell us what they have been doing,” the president jabbed the Minority MPs at a rally in Ho.

Sources say the posture of the Minority is “pay back time”.