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MPs Angry With Kwabena Duffuor   
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A NUMBER of Members of Parliament have accused the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, of deliberately failing to face the House to answer pertinent parliamentary questions on the country’s finances for the past three years.

The Minority Caucus has on several occasions expressed worry about the behaviour of the finance minister, who always asked his deputies to represent him in Parliament to either transact business or answer questions.

MP for Akim Oda, Yaw Owusu-Boateng, and other lawmakers from the Minority side spent almost an hour on the floor of parliament complaining bitterly about the issue, accusing the majority side of condoning the minister’s conduct.

“For the last three years the finance minister has been refusing to come and answer questions. I have asked my questions for the past two years, which have not been answered by the minister. I do not know what is happening,” Hon. Owusu-Boateng fumed.

The minister’s absence in parliament to attend to two urgent questions, which were advertised to be answered yesterday, infuriated the minority members.

He was to answer a question from the MP for Dorma West, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, on why parliamentary approval was not sought before bonds were issued to settle the TOR debt.

The finance minister was also expected to answer another question from MP for Offinso North, Augustine Collins Ntim, on the extent of the Ministry Finance’s collaboration with the Office of the President to have the end-of-service benefits paid to former Presidents Rawlings and Kufuor without further delay.

Yesterday was not the first time these questions were being asked but surprisingly, they were substituted with different questions on roads, which were duly answered by the Minister for Roads and Highways, Joe Gidisu.

Members from the Minority Caucus, led by the MP for Afigya-Sekyere West, Albert Kan-Dapaah, did not understand why the questions were substituted.

Explaining however, the Deputy Majority Leader, Alhaji Abdul-Rashid Pelpuo, told the House that when the leadership contacted Dr. Duffuor concerning the aforementioned questions, they were informed he was on leave.

The minister, he noted, however failed to delegate any of his deputies to represent him so the Business Committee thought it wise to remove the question and substitute them with other questions that were pending.

It would be recalled that these two questions were put to Dr. Duffuor about six months ago, during which he delegated one of his deputies, Mr. Fiifi Kwetey, to appear before the House to answer.

At that time, the Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, had argued that the questions would have to be answered by the minister himself as they were policy decisions that were taken at the cabinet level.

Dr. Akoto Osei, who is also a former minister of state at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, and MP for Old Tafo, submitted that Fiifi Kwetey might not be apprised of the full facts regarding the issues because as a deputy minister, he did not attend cabinet meetings.

Deputy Minority Leader, Ambrose Dery, who is also the MP for Lawra/Nandom, and Prof. George Yaw Gyan-Baffour, MP for Wenchi, all supported the argument that Dr .Duffuor would have to appear before the House to answer the questions.

The minority believed there was a calculated attempt by the majority side to prevent the minister for finance from answering pertinent questions on the economy.

But Deputy Majority Leader, Alhaji Pelpuo, who is also the MP for Wa Central, insisted there was no deliberate attempt to shield the finance minister and that he was simply not available.

“We programme questions as and when we feel is necessary. We do not want to programme questions when the ministers are not available”, Alhaji Pelpuo indicated, saying, “We have taken note of all the concerns and we will see how we can increase our interaction with the ministers”.
Source: Awudu Mahama, D-Guide

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