Deputy Majority leader in Parliament, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, has tossed the buck to Speaker ASK Bagbin for the inability of the Finance Minister to appear before the House to respond to a question on the cost of the President’s travels in May.
According to him, it is the Speaker that took a decision to reschedule the question for another time and not the Finance Minister who requested more time.
Mr. Afenyo-Markin made this claim on Friday 9th June 2021 during presentation of the Business Statement for next week.
Member for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, expressed concern about the question that he filed, which vanished from the Order Paper on the day it was supposed to have been answered, has since not made its way back into the business schedule of the House.
The question reads: To ask the Minister for Finance how much the President’s recent official travels to France, Belgium, and South Africa in May this year cost the Ghanaian taxpayer.
The question was programmed to have been answered on the 17th June 2021 and was duly advertised in the provisional Order Paper.
However, it disappeared from the Order Paper on the day in question and the Deputy Majority leader the following day, Friday 18th June 2021 explained to the House that Mr. Ofori Atta will come to respond but since the member needs the facts, it is important that the Finance Ministers comes with the facts.
“It is therefore only fair that he is given that space and once those facts are available the House will find room to get him to answer.”
“The right of a member to get responses from the executive is undeniable and nobody can stampede it. I assure my colleague that we will follow up on the Minister and make sure he comes to respond to the question,” he assured.
The Speaker, Rtd. Hon. Alban Bagbin, expressed his displeasure at the turn of events and indicated his surprise at what happened on Thursday 17th June, when 1st Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu presided over the day’s sitting.
According to him, though he had no pre-knowledge of what happened the incident was being attributed to him.
He stressed that the House is guided by practices and procedures and that the Speaker, in applying these, is guided by the leadership among other things.
The pre-sitting meetings, he said, offer such guidance where the Speaker is informed about how matters would proceed on the floor and urged the leadership to take advantage of the pre-sitting meetings to let the speaker know what is happening.
However, when the matter came up again on Friday, July 9, 2021, Mr. Afenyo-Markin in his response laid the responsibility on the doorstep of the Speaker.
When Mr. Ablakwa demanded clarification on the role being attributed to the Speaker for the failure of the Finance Minister to respond to the question, Mr.Afenyo-Markin indicated that Mr. Ofori Atta is ready and that he did not ask for time.
The Speaker, he said, directed the question to be rescheduled and that the Minister is ready to come and answer.
He said, “On that of Mr. Ablakwa I repeat, Mr. Speaker himself directed. It is not about blame. Nobody is blaming anybody.”
“My answer is that the reason why the Minister is not here is that Mr. Speaker has directed he will see to it that he is scheduled to do so.”
“It isn’t the case that the Minister is asking for more time, that is my point,” he added.