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Covid-19 expenditure probe Bill rejected

Covid-19 expenditure probe Bill rejected

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The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu, has rejected a private member’s motion filed by Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu and two others, calling for a Bi-partisan Committee to investigate government expenditures related to COVID-19 since the pandemic’s outbreak in 2020. Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson, Ranking Member on the Finance Committee and a co-sponsor, moved the motion, stating that the government spent far in excess of the approved budget, necessitating the investigation.

However, the majority side filed a Preliminary Objection, arguing that the motion lacked merit and should not be admitted. The First Deputy Speaker upheld the objection. Correspondent Bubu Klinogo reports that the Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, Minority Chief Whip Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, and the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee, Dr. Cassie, sponsored a Private Members’ motion for Parliament to establish a bi-partisan Parliamentary Committee chaired by a member of the Minority caucus to investigate the expenditures made by the government of Ghana in relation to COVID-19 since the outbreak of Since last year, the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has admitted the motion, which has appeared daily on the order paper but was not called to be moved.

During today’s sitting, the Majority Chief Whip, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, pleaded with the Speaker, Alban Bagbin, to change the order of business so that the private members’ motion could be moved. Dr. Casiel Ato Forson, Ranking Member of the Finance Committee, rose to move the motion, but before he could, Deputy Majority Leader Alex Afenyo-Markin rose to raise some preliminary objections. According to him, the motion was born of malice and should not be considered. However, Speaker Alban Bagbin overruled him, claiming that his objection was premature. According to the Speaker, the motion should be properly admitted before the house before any member can comment on it.That allowed the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, to second the motion by reiterating the need for such a Committee, at which point the Speaker had vacated the Chair for the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu, to take over.

Mr. Afenyo-Markin now had the opportunity to make his case after the motion was moved and seconded. His concerns were shared by the Minority Leader, who asked the Speaker to dismiss the objection. The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, agreed with his Deputy’s arguments and urged the Speaker to uphold the objection.

In his ruling, the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, stated that the minority’s request for a committee to investigate the COVID 19 expense was incorrect. According to him, the Public Accounts Committee already serves that purpose, and there is no need for a separate Committee. As a result, he denied the motion.

Reactions from both parties: Meanwhile, both parties in the House have been reacting to what happened on the floor and the First Deputy Speaker’s verdict. Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader, stated that his party is “disappointed.”

According to him, the Majority and, by extension, the Government were just avoiding accountability.

Deputy Majority Leader Alexander Afenyo-Markin, for his part, called the Deputy Speaker’s decision a “win for due procedure.”

He stated that the Majority is open to openness and accountability if the proper procedure is followed on a Private Members Bill calling for a Bi-partisan Committee to investigate the Government’s expenses related to Covid-19.

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