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President John Mahama’s financial budget for 2014 as a ‘validly elected’ president will definitely come under intense scrutiny by members of parliament to ensure that the supreme interests of the people whom they represent are best served in these trying moments of economic difficulties.

On the first day of resumed sitting yesterday after a three-month recess, leaders from both sides served notice that the government’s budget and, for that matter, the economic policy statement of President Mahama for 2014 as a duly elected president will be put under the ‘parliamentary microscope’ to find out whether the budget has the panacea to address the economic problems of the country in order to bring some hope to Ghanaians and also lift them from the economic difficulties they find themselves.

The budget for 2014 is expected to be presented to parliament in two or three weeks’ time by the Minister of Finance, Seth Terkper.

In his welcome speech to members of parliament, the minority leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, said parliament would thoroughly interrogate the principles of the budget to establish how far or how close they find congruence with the policies of the government, particularly the directive principles of state policy.

“Parliament will scrutinise this year’s budget to ensure the socio-economic development of our dear nation,” the minority leader said, stressing that it was the expectation of parliament that the budget would address problems facing the ailing economy in order to bring relief to the long-suffering people of this country.

The deputy majority leader, Alfred Kwame Agbesi, for his part, admonished MPs on both sides to be bi-partisan in considering this year’s economic statement of the government.

“We as members of parliament must be objective in analysing the budget to advance the cause of the nation,” he said, stressing that their presence in parliament was a call to serve the interests of the people who voted for them as well as the general good of the nation.

Hon Agbesi, however, appealed for improved security for members of parliament since security for members of parliament leaves much to be desired.

“Hon Speaker, security in parliament and for members of parliament has been very porous and that can be very costly for MPs and the nation at large,”

He, therefore, appealed to the Parliamentary Service Board and the national security to provide an armed escort for each member of parliament so that MPs could go about their duties without any security fears.

The speaker of parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho, charged all MPs to put in their best and discharge their parliamentary duties efficiently and effectively to help give hope to the Ghanaian people, especially when the president’s economic policy statement and financial proposals for the year ending December 31, 2014 would soon be put before parliament.

He, however, apologised to members for the inability of leadership to have the chamber reconfigured with expanded seating capacity to accommodate the extra 45 members of parliament as promised before recess and said there had been some delay in satisfying all the legal and procedural procurement requirements because of the extensive work entailed in such projects.

There were signs on the first day yesterday that the third meeting of parliament would even have more MPs on the government side opposing some policies of government, if they realised that those policies would not serve the interests of the people they represent.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) MPs for Dade Kotopon and Shai Osudoku, Nii Amasah Namoale and David Tetteh Assumeng respectively led the way to bombard the Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Emmanuel Kofi Armah Buah, on why some farmers affected by the construction of the Bui Dam power substation at Kintampo in the Brong Ahafo Region had still not been paid any compensation.

The minister was invited to parliament yesterday to answer a query by an NDC MP for Kintampo North, Stephen Kunsu, on when compensation would be paid to the remaining displaced farmers around Kintampo, whose farms were destroyed as a result of the construction of the sub-station.

The minister said Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo) had already paid GH¢40,000 to the Paagor royal family as compensation and a further GH¢17,712 compensation to nine individuals as compensation for their crops that were destroyed.

He said after the payment, GRIDCo had received new requests for compensation for portions of the land for which the entire compensation payments were made in 2009 and 2011.

He, however, assured that GRIDCo would look into the new requests and see how they could be resolved.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) MPs for Sunyani West and Tano North both in the Brong Ahafo Region, Ignatius Baffour Awuah and Freda Prempeh respectively also told the minister that there were several farmers in their constituencies who were also affected by the Bui Power Project but had not been compensated.

They, therefore, called on the minister to ensure that those farmers in their constituencies are duly compensated as early as possible.

Sitting continues today as the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Kofi Humado, is expected to appear before the house to answer questions on the status of New Longoro Irrigation Project in the Brong Ahafo Region.
Source: Thomas Fosu Jnr/D-Guide

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