This Week in Parliament [Mar 12-16, 2018]

  • GH¢924.8m approved for GETFund

Parliament on Wednesday approved GH¢924.8m for the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) for the 2018 fiscal year.
GH¢328.1 million (35.48%) was allocated to tertiary institutions, GH¢256.3 million (27.72%) to secondary schools and GH¢253.1 million (27.37%) to basic schools. Other expenses by the GETFund amounted to GH¢66,604,000 (7.2%). GH¢20,625,000 (2.23%) was also earmarked for MPs’ emergency projects.

Every MP would receive GH¢60,000 to fund education-related projects in their constituency and GH¢15,000 to monitor the projects.

Some MPs expressed disappointment over the capping of the GETFund under the Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Act 2017 (Act 947), which reduced the contributions from the Value Added Tax (VAT) to the GETFund this year and called for the establishment of a special fund to finance the Free SHS programme.

  • MPs debate shoot-to-kill by Operation Vanguard Taskforce

MPs from opposing sides of the House clashed on Tuesday over the use of deadly violence to combat perpetrators of illegal mining “galamsey” activities in the country by members of the Operation Vanguard police-military taskforce. The debate ensued when the Defence Minister, Hon. Dominic Nitiwul (MP, Bimbilla) appeared before the House to answer questions on the activities of the taskforce.

Majority Leader, Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu (MP, Suame) argued that the harmful environmental impacts of illegal mining activities justified the use of such force to discourage the practice and protect the country’s environment.

Members of the Minority however bemoaned the use excessive violence and the burning of confiscated trucks and equipment by soldiers of the Operation Vanguard taskforce, describing them as “extrajudicial”.

MPs from the Northern regions, where some confiscated property of suspected anti-illegal miners have been burnt, warned that they would support legal action against the state following those incidents.
The Defence Minister, Hon. Dominic Nitiwul, told the House that he had asked his ministry to conduct further investigations into the burning of seized illegal mining equipment.

  • Parliaments of Ghana and Nigeria to partner to advance peace in West Africa

Delegations of the security-related committees of the Ghanaian and Nigerian Parliaments have met to commence sessions to dialogue on peace and security in West Africa.

The dialogue which was dubbed the “Exchange of Good Practices on Legislative Oversight” was organized by the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of the Armed Forces (DCAF), the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre and hosted by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre.

Hon. Bryan Acheampong (MP, Abetifi), Minister of State at the Presidency remarked that the programme would strengthen government resolve to consolidate democracy and the rule of law.
The Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, His Excellency Olufemi Abikoye said the programme was important and timely improving the security sector in the sub-region.

  • House remembers late MP for Ledzokuku, Hon. Nii Nortey Duah

A minute silence was observed in honor of the late former MP for Ledzokuku in the Greater Accra Region, Hon. Nii Nortey Duah, who passed away in December last year. He served in Parliament from 2009 - 2013.

The former Deputy Youth and Sports Minister also received touching tributes from MPs. He was described as a peaceful and humble man who made significant efforts towards football development in the country.
Some MPs used the occasion to call for pension programmes to support retired legislators.

The burial and final funeral rites of the late Hon. Nii Nortey Duah are scheduled for the weekend at Teshie in Accra.

  • Bills & Other Papers

● The Finance Committee’s Report on the Loan and Financing Agreement between Government of Ghana and KfW Frankfurt for €13m and financial contribution of €1m to co-finance the establishment of a Deposit Protection Scheme in Ghana was laid and distributed to MPs on Friday.

● The Finance Committee’s Report on Semi-Annual Reports of the Bank of Ghana on Petroleum Holding Funds and Ghana Petroleum Funds for the periods January 1 - June 30, 2017 and July 1 - December 31, 2017, was laid and distributed to MPs on Friday.

● A Report on the waiver of import duties and levies was referred to the Finance Committee on Friday, for consideration and report.

● The Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information Bill, 2017, was read for the third time and passed on Thursday.

● The Auditor-General’s Report on the Management of Petroleum Funds for financial year ended 31st December 2016, was presented by the Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu on Tuesday. It was referred to the Public Accounts Committee for consideration and report.

● The Auditor-General’s Report on Public Accounts (Pre-University Educational Institutions) for financial year ended 31 December 2016 was laid and referred to the Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday.

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