This Week In Parliament [25-28th July, 2017]

Highlights of what MPs discussed from 25-28th July 2017

  • EC Boss appears before Parliamentary Committee

The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana, Mrs. Charlotte Osei answered questions on how the EC spent funds in the lead up to the 2016 general elections. The hearing was held in the chamber in the form of a committee sitting where the Speaker of the House sat as Committee Chairperson. This is because the EC as an independent entity is not answerable to Parliament.

Mrs. Osei in her statement said that a total of 4,271 applications for accreditation were received from media houses and GH¢10 was charged each. GH¢42,710 was collected from media houses and GH¢42,713 was spent on printing of accreditation cards. Also, she stated that an amount of GH¢2,590,080.47 was received from eligible voters (who had to pay GH¢5 each for replacement of voter identity cards). Mrs. Osei added that the total amount received from voter card replacement have not yet been moved into the Commission’s consolidated fund.

  • Minority unhappy with Speaker

MPs in the minority have registered their displeasure to what they say is the Rt Honourable Speaker’s ‘’bias’’ against them. According to the minority, the Speaker, Professor Michael Oquaye does not seek their input before making changes in the Order Paper (a document that spells out Parliament business per sitting). Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mubarak Muntaka (MP, Asawase) who spoke at a press conference said it was frustration that made the minority to walk out of the chamber while proceedings was ongoing. He however acknowledged the authority of the Speaker, and what he symbolises at Parliament, but was quick to add that they (minority) may be compelled to take further action if the Speaker continues to ignore them.

The Speaker on his part said that nobody can stop an MP from asking questions during proceedings. However, an MP may be removed from the Order Paper if his/her question had already been asked by another MP. He went on to say that each MP has one hour to ask all questions on the floor and urged members of the house to finish on time so other MPs can have the opportunity.

In a response to the minority, majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (MP, Suame) said the way the minority went about events was wrong and added that they should be patient if Speaker does not give ear to their call.

  • Parliament Meets COCOBOD

The Speaker and leadership met board members of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to discuss prospects for Ghana’s cocoa industry. According to minority whip Alhaji Mubarak Muntaka (MP, Asawase), “the need to consumer our cocoa products is long overdue. You go to Switzerland and they tell you they have the best chocolates. (But) when a Ghanaian tastes it, it’s sugary”. He indicated that the country stands to make substantial profit from the consumption of cocoa products (drinks) by all the 1.2million students in Senior High Schools under the school feeding programme, and expressed Parliament commitment to support COCOBOD to maximise cocoa output.

Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (MP, Suame) buttressed the point of output maximization, and underscored the importance of supporting cocoa farmers and internal processing of cocoa in the process. The majority leader also said it is crucial for the House to quicken steps to approve COCOBOD’s syndicated loan.

First Deputy Speaker Joseph Osei-Owusu (MP, Bekwai) called for protection for the industry especially against the “galamsey” menace and expressed the view that “cocoa roads should be focused on actual cocoa growing centres”. He also highlighted business opportunities associated with the cocoa industry saying the country can “use the cocoa husk to generate a business activity for cocoa growing towns”. He went on further to state that “the technology and information (to explore business opportunities) are available, what’s needed is the resources to enable start”.

Mr. Hackman Owusu Agyeman, the Chairperson of COCOBOD said that most of the issues raised by the lawmakers are being dealt with and COCOBOD is “trying to brand Ghana cocoa as a global commodity”.