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Cash-for-seat Debate: Minority Walks Out Of Parliament   
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Haruna Iddrisu
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The Minority in Parliament walked out of the August House Tuesday afternoon over the cash-for-seat report.

According to them, they just received the 147 page committee's document and could not have gone through the report thoroughly for discussions to be generated.

Parliament today commenced discussions into the cash-for-seat committee's report as it was laid before the house.

The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, held that under the circumstances, his side of the House could not take part in the deliberations.

The Majority in Parliament has however decided to go ahead with the debate and discussions on the report.

The Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Osei-Kyei Mensah Bonsu, said the Minority MP’s refusal to take part in the debate was borne out of their lack of understanding of Parliamentary standing orders.

A 5-member ad hoc committee of Parliament which was set up to investigate extortion allegations against the Ministry of Trade and Industry cleared the sector Minister Alan Kyerematen and his officials of any wrongdoing.

The Minority led by MP for Asawase, Muntaka Mubarak alleged the Ministry took $100, 000 from expatriates to sit close to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo during the Ghana Expatriates Business Awards last year.

Some sections of the 146-page report said: “ . . After the hearings and the analysis and evaluation of the evidence adduced before it has come to a conclusion that there is no merit in the allegations leveled against the Ministry of Trade and Industry as contained in the motion and which culminated in the setting up of the Special Committee.”

The Committee, however, made the following recommendations: “That the Controller and Accountant General and the Ministry of Finance should consider in the formulation of the new Regulation of the PFM Act, adequate provision to cater for public private partnership arrangement and emerging or contemporary issues.

“That there is a need to have a second look at the recall mechanism and ensure that it is not needlessly invoked at any time because of its mandatory nature in the Constitution. Upon a recall, Mr. Speaker may have to establish that there is a “prima facie” case and if Mr. Speaker is not satisfied that there is a good reason for the summoning, he may dispense with the meeting. This test is likely to curtail frivolous and vexatious request for a recall.

“That the practice of some Members of Parliament trooping to the media to make allegations against highly placed officials must cease.

"The Committee is of the view that Members of Parliament who indulge in such acts ought not to be heard in Parliament if they should thereafter bring those matters before Parliament for Parliament to deliberate on the matter.”

'Minority report'

The bi-partisan committee probing the extortion claims was enveloped by controversy when its Minority members decided to prepare and leak a separate report that indicted some persons of interests in the probe, including the Ministry of Trade and the organizers of the awards scheme, the Millennium Excellence Foundation.

The Minority side of the Committee, comprising of Dr. Dominic Ayine and James Avedzi, concluded that, the Ministry of Trade engaged in multiple infractions including breaches of the public financial management law and multiple ethical violations.

It also said the Millennium Excellence Foundation, among other things, presented forged evidence to the Committee.

Dr. Ayine subsequently called for the withdrawal of the already laid report so that a composite report will be presented to Parliament.

Prior to the walkout, there were reports that the Minority was planning to boycott the debate of the report over the matter.
Source: Isaac Kwame Owusu/Peacefmonline.com/Ghana

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