Parliament will not consider two loan facility agreements totalling $1 billion laid before the House until the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, appears before the House on June 22, 2022, to account for how COVID-19 money approved by the House since the outbreak of the pandemic, was applied.
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, gave the directive after the House suspended sitting for 10 minutes for the leadership of the House to deliberate on the inability of Mr Ofori-Atta to appear before the House yesterday[June 16, 2022].
This was after the Minority caucus had expressed their disappointment about the non-availability of the Finance Minister to brief the House yesterday on how COVID-19 money had been utilised since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020 and to answer 16 questions asked of his ministry by members of the House.
The Speaker in his ruling after the meeting by the leadership, also directed that all matters relating to the COVID-19 loan facility agreement laid before Parliament would not be considered until the Finance Minister came before the House to account to Parliament, on behalf of Ghanaians, as to how previous loans for COVID-19 were spent.
Mr Bagbin said although there was communication through the Majority Leader by the Finance Minister, Mr Ofori-Atta also spoke to him directly on the phone about his non-availability to appear before the House yesterday, as requested.
He is, therefore, to appear before the House on Wednesday, June 22, 2022.
Mr Bagbin said when questions were asked of Ministers, the House expected them to come and answer them and cited Standing Order 61 of Parliament to buttress his point which says that “ Ministers shall by Order of the House requested to attend to sittings of the House to answer questions asked of them”.
He further cited Standing Order 60 (3) which also says that “ A Minister shall not take not more than three weeks to respond to the question of House” to give his ruling on the matter.
Mr Bagbin said based on the Standing Orders of Parliament, the Business Committee of the House was given the opportunity to do the allotment and thus alloted June 16, for the Finance Minister to come and answer a number of questions that stood in the name of his ministry.
“ The Finance Minister told us that he will not be available today and before today, I gave a directive to the effect that the Minister appeared before this House to account for money that we approved for him to use to lead the country as to how we could respond to the COVID-19 pandemic “, the Speaker said.
“ A lot of questions have been raised so we expected the Minister to come and account as to how state resources had been applied to the benefit of the people.
“ I just indicated that until that is done, a motion requesting for approval of the House for money to be given to the Ministry of Finance for the purpose of the COVID-19 will be on hold”, the Speaker stated further.
Mr Bagbin reiterated that until the Finance Minister answered the questions and went through the accountability process, the House would not take that motion.
“With respect to the question for today, the Finance Minister has another request before us and that will also be affected. Until he comes to respond to the question and to submit the statement as to how that money has been applied, we will not entertain any business from his ministry,” the Speaker stated.