Speaker Warns Ministers

The Speaker of Parliament, Mr Doe Adjaho, yesterday warned ministers of state that they would not be allowed to move motions for Parliament to approve their budget estimates after they had ignored the opportunity to do so by December 18, 2013. He took the decision against the backdrop that some sector ministers failed during the week to appear before the House for the approval of their respective budget estimates. In most cases, deputy ministers were sent to defend and move motions, to the displeasure of Members of Parliament (MPs). Reading the Business Statement (programme) of the House for next week, the Chairman of the Business Committee and Majority Leader, Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, expressed the displeasure of the committee at the failure of some sector ministers to be present in the House for it to consider motions on the estimates relating to their ministries. "The Business Committee, therefore, suggests to the House that no motion of a ministry shall be moved if the minister in charge of that ministry fails to attend upon the House and Parliament will not be compelled to sit beyond Wednesday, December 18, 2013," he said. Parliament is expected to adjourn sine die on December 18, 2013 for the Yuletide. That timetable has compelled the House to sit for an extended time. Additionally, the House has been sitting on Mondays to be able to have more time to approve budget estimates of the various ministers and pass the 2014 Appropriation Bill to empower the government to spend money from the Consolidated Fund next year. This week the House had to suspend sitting for more than one hour because neither the Minister of Finance nor either of his two deputies was in the House to assist Parliament in its deliberations on the budget estimates for the various sectors. In an attempt to defend some of the sector ministers, the Majority Chief Whip, Alhaji Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak, informed the House that the President had already warned the ministers about that behaviour and gave an assurance that the ministers would be in the House next week. But Mr Adjaho took exception to that assertion and said that explanation even made matters worse. "If the ministers will not respect the President and this House, then who will they respect?" he asked. He charged the sector ministers to apprise themselves of the provisions of the Standing Orders of the House and the 1992 Constitution in order to know how they should relate to Parliament. "Nothing is more frustrating than calling a motion, only to realise that the person who is expected to move the motion is not there," he said in frustration. Contributing to the discussions, the MP for Sekondi, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, said the House ought to assist the President to govern the country. "For next week no minister has an excuse. It is not good for the country; nor is it good for the President," he said, amid shouts of "hear, hear" from MPs from both sides of the House. The Deputy Minister of Information and Media Relations, Mr Murtala Mohammed, said it was good that the frustration of the House had found expression in the Business Statement and called on ministers to be up and doing. For his part, the MP for Tema East, Mr Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover, said, "We want to work but the ministers are running away." It was, however, refreshing that a number of the sector ministers were in the House yesterday to move their motions. They included Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, Energy and Petroleum; Mrs Elizabeth Ofosu Adjare, Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, and Mr Seidu Daannaa, Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs.