Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has ruled that the House will not consider any request from the Finance Ministry until Ken Ofori-Atta appears before the House to account for Covid-19 expenditure and answer other questions from Members of Parliament.
Mr Bagbin, speaking on the floor of the House on Thursday, said the Minister must appear before the House or suffer rejection of requests from the Finance Ministry.
He contended that Order 63 of Parliament’s standing orders bars a Minister from taking more than three weeks to respond to questions from the House.
“I will go further to say that until the answer is provided, until he goes through the accountability process, we will not take that motion…Today, he has another request before us that will also be affected.
“Until he comes to respond to the question, and to submit the statement giving explanation as to how that money has been applied, we will not entertain any business from that Ministry. Mark my words,” Mr Bagbin said.
The Finance Minister was billed to appear before the House on Thursday to account for the government’s expenditure on Covid-19.
Despite earlier assurances from the leadership of the Majority group in Parliament, Mr Ofori-Atta on Thursday did not show up to render accounts on the Covid-19 funds.
Regardless of Mr Ofori-Atta’s failure to appear before the House, the Ministry is requesting the approval of a loan sum of 1 billion dollars in total.
The amount comprises 750 million dollars from the Afreximbank to finance capital and growth-related expenditures in the 2022 budget and a syndicated loan of 250 million dollars from a consortium of banks.
But Mr Bagbin said the House will not accept the Finance Ministry’s request.
Per the Business Statement for the week, and Wednesday’s provisional Order Paper, Mr Ofori-Atta was expected to answer 16 questions, which include accounts on Covid-19 funds.
But the said questions were not tabled as part of the day’s business.
The Minority MPs are not happy about the development as they have accused him of a continuous disrespect of the House.
Ranking Member on the Health Committee of Parliament, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, stressed that the attitude of the Finance Minister points to the fact that the government does not care much about probity and transparency.
He explained that “if he [Ken Ofori-Atta] really cares and this man has any conscience, he would not have the guts to go and sit on national television and be defending the building of the National Cathedral, while countless number of NABCo people have not been paid, and while the National Health Insurance Authority’s Fund has not been paid.”
He also noted that his side will not give up on demanding accountability from the Finance Minister with regards to government’s expenditure on Covid-19.
“We are talking in excess of GH¢25 million. We need a bi-partisan probe into the entire expenditure and the receipt of Covid money. For me, the questions on the Order Paper are not enough.”