The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has directed that the Minister of Finance appear before the House, to account for the utilisation of funds approved by the legislature, to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Without indicating a specific date when the Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, should appear before the House, Mr Bagbin, at the sitting of the House, in Accra, yesterday, tasked the Clerk of Parliament to communicate the order to the minister.
The Speaker’s directive followed the opposition to the Finance Committee’s report recommending for approval a €75 million financing agreement between the government of Ghana and the European Investment Bank for COVID-19 Health Response Ghana Project.
According to Mr Bagbin, Parliament has reneged on its responsibilities to hold the Executive accountable to its stewardship for far too long and must stamp it’s authority now.
“The people of Ghana have been blaming the Executive arm of government for some of these accountability lapses. I think that it should be Parliament that should be blamed and not the Executive.We have all it takes to make sure that the right thing is done. It is Parliament that is weak and reneging on its duties and functions,” the Speaker noted.
Mr Bagbin said “[I hereby] direct that the Minister of Finance should appear before this House and account for all the monies we approved for the utilisation for the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is only then and only after that this motion [for the €75 million] may find expression on the floor again to approve or disapprove of this motion by the House. I so direct.”
The Speaker observed that from the intervention of Members of Parliament (MPs) to the motion, “I see that there is the unwillingness of members to go with the Committee until the monies that have expended on COVID-19 are accounted for.”
Mr Bagbin said in principle, MPs were not against getting such ‘cheap money’ as described by the Ranking Member.
The Speaker said MPS were right to demand government to “first account for what has been given to you before we go ahead to approve the cheap money”.
“The Clerk will communicate to the Finance Minister the exact words of the directive and we expect the minister to comply. If not, he knows the power of this House. They will apply with full force,” he said.