November 8, 2013

Parliament today adjourned prematurely because the house could not form the needed quorum to do government business.

Parliament has been considering the revised Value Added Tax bill. The passage of the bill is expected to pave way for the presentation of the 2014 budget but MPs on the majority side, including the finance minister and his two deputies abandoned the house forcing the second deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joe Ghartey to suspend sitting. MPs on the minority side said they were disappointed.

“All of us would have wished to cooperate, overlook some of the little things and permit business to go on, but when deputy leader of the house puts it on record that indeed, we have been passing bills in this house without a quorum. what he is suggesting is that we have been making illegal bills.

“This is the business of the whips to make sure that members are here pursuing business of government rather than urging us to overlook home.

“It doesn’t appear that the front bench of the majority is interested in building this path.

“Probably, it is because this part of the house are willing to do the work for them. We are here in our numbers. They are prepared to overlook their members abandoning the business of the house”, a member of the minority indicated.

Another member of the minority stated categorically that statements made by the deputy Majority Leader, Alfred Agbesi that members of parliament are not interested in passing bills, should be withdrawn since Parliament is a house of record.

“Since this is a house of record, the statement made by the honourable deputy Majority Leader is a serious indictment which I hope he withdraws”, the minority member said, stressing that the records of parliament could not have it that members pass bills without a quorum.

Deputy majority leader, Alfred Agbesi told Joy News that members are simply not interested in the consideration of bills in the house. He also denied suggestions that the house has been illegally passing bills without a quorum. He spoke to Joy News’ parliamentary correspondent Elton John Brobbey.

“The bill was started only last week and we have done this bill. Yes, naturally when the house is considering bills, members do not normally show interest because many people think that making bills is for lawyers but with particular reference to this bill, people have been anxious to have it through because of value added bill and that is what people want to know what is going to happen to industry, to people paying tax, or proving services”, Mr. Agbesi noted.

Explaining further, the deputy majority leader said “in the first place, the house had a quorum but in the course of doing business, members one way or the other have business that they might have gone out to do including attending cabinet meeting. I cannot know what happened. Today is Thursday, and majority side had a meeting”,

In this respect, Mr. Agbesi pointed out that the majority leader had to attend a cabinet meeting and so had to leave together with the finance minister and his two deputies.

“Almost all the ministers and their deputies had left for the cabinet meeting and that explains the emptiness of the house”, he asserted, stressing that by tomorrow, November 8, all things being equal, the house will complete the bill.” He further emphasized that there had always been a quorum when any bill passed by parliament.