This Week in Parlament [4-8 December, 2017]

Highlights of what MPs discussed 4-8 December, 2017

  • Unusual health events/outbreak in Kumasi Academy Senior High School

The Minister of Health was summoned to Parliament to explain the situation in Kumasi Academy Senior High School. Below are his statements.

Health Minister’s statement on 3 December, 2017: http://bit.ly/2iEFu7I
Health Minister’s statement on 6 December, 2017: http://bit.ly/2j8AZ9I

  • Budget statement and economic policy for 2018 approved

“In the history of the Fourth Republican era, the only time this country (Ghana) has seen single digit inflation (of less than 8.6%) was under the administration of Professor John Evans Atta Mills.” Those were the opening remarks of Minority Leader of Parliament Mr Haruna Iddrisu (MP, Tamale South) in his contribution to debates on the 2018 budget. He also argued that the NDC government increased installed energy capacity from 1,500 Megawatts in 2008 to 4,000 Megawatts in 2016, adding that the NPP government inherited a dumsor-free economy. He also questioned the basis for the allocation of GHS13m to Ghana Bauxite Aluminium Company, a company that was not mentioned in the budget. In concluding, among others, Mr Iddrisu said that the NPP government are “fortunate to have inherited the Ghana Exim Bank from the NDC government” and therefore the Minority “will not support another bureaucracy known as the Ghana Development Bank when there is ADB and NIB”.

In his rebuttal, Majority Leader Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (MP, Suame) said that inflation cannot be the only indicator for measuring economic performance. He argued that under Mr. Baah Wiredu (Former Minister of Finance), the NPP government reduced inflation to 8% from 48% in 2001, stressing that the NDC cannot claim to be the only party when in government, achieved single-digit inflation. Also, the gross national reserve has risen to GHS7.1b from GHS6.9b as of September. On energy, the Majority Leader asserted that President Jerry Rawlings (NDC) added 580 Megawatts of power to the national grid whilst President John Kufuor added 1,452 Megawatts.

The 2018 budget was subsequently approved by simple majority votes. The minority abstained from voting.

  • Bills & Reports

A paper from the Ministry of Finance on a loan agreement of US$88m between the Government of Ghana and China was referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report.

  • Open Parliament Week

Ghana signed on to the Open Government Partnership Initiative (OGPI) in 2011; as an obligation under the Partnership, developed and implemented her first action plan which covered the period 2013-2014. By the OGP criteria, action plans are developed every two years (Mr Alhassan Azong; former MP, Builsa South).

Mr. Emmanuel Bedzrah (MP, Ho West) commended the leadership of Parliament for its efforts in opening information to Ghanaians and underscored the contribution of Parliamentary Monitoring Organizations to the process.

Dr. Clement Apaak (MP, Builsa South) indicated that though Parliament has opened itself up technologically speaking, there is more to be done. He referred to Parliament’s website which is not updated regularly. He recognized and applauded the work of Odekro and encouraged Parliament to engage Odekro on its work.

Dr. Appiah-Kubi (MP, Atwima Kwanwoma) said the strengthening of the structures and resources of Parliament committees for effective functioning is critical to harnessing open government successes.

Alhaji Mubarak Muntaka (MP, Asawase) added that one of the ways to promote government transparent is through questioning of Ministers. He called on the Information Technology Department to be up and doing in updating Parliament’s website with videos for access by the general public.

The Majority Leader Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (MP, Suame) stated that a transparent Parliament is one that “provides prior information to the public on the business that is before it. A parliament that is open, is one that is accountable, should have effective electoral processes (and) enforceable code of conduct.”

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