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General News of Thursday, 14 June 2007

Source: Graphic

Debate On Energy Takes Another Twist

The debate in Parliament on the country’s precarious energy crisis has assumed a complicated and different twist and dimension, with the Majority in the House proposing an amendment to a Notice of Motion filed by the Minority.

The motion, which was hitherto a half-hour motion and filed by three Members of Parliament (MPs), all of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), namely, Dr Kwame Ampofo, Mr Haruna Iddrisu and Alhaji Amadu Sorogho, should have been debated last week.

However, on the eve of the debate, the Minister of Energy, Mr Joseph Kofi Adda, presented a comprehensive and elaborate statement on means that the government had adopted to resolve the crisis which had affected the economy considerably.

The Minority, which felt outsmarted by the Majority, also decided to drop the half-hour motion and settle on a full motion so that the issue could be thoroughly debated and discussed.

In yesterday’s order paper, there was a Notice of Motion filed by the three MPs and an amendment proposed to the motion by four MPs on the Majority side.

The motion read, “The Honourable House is disappointed by the government’s inability to end the energy crisis, almost a year after it started, and expresses its lack of confidence in the current handling of the crisis and urges the government to adopt an effective programme to address the crisis.”

Four Majority MPs, namely, Messrs Maxwell Kofi Jumah, David Oppong Kusi, Ben Aryeh and Mrs Eugenia Kusi also proposed an amendment to read thus: “The Honourable House having been briefed by the Minister responsible for Energy on the government’s plans to generate more power to end the power shortages which have occurred in the country over the past two and a half decades, commends the government for those plans and urges the government to implement same timeously”.

At yesterday’s sitting, the Minority Leader, Mr Alban Bagbin, told the House that the Minority was disappointed by what he termed the subtle attempts by the Majority to forestall the debate on the energy crisis.

He challenged the Majority to pave way for the debate of the crisis, saying, “Let us debate the issue to find a solution to the problem, since you can run but cannot hide.”

Mr Bagbin added that the motion had been admitted as an urgent one and should, therefore, take place as per the agreement reached between the leadership of the House last week.

But the Deputy Majority Leader, Mr Abraham Ossei Aidoo, stood his ground and explained that since the previous motion was stood down for a new one, it had to go through the normal channel and promised that the Business Committee of the House would sit on the matter to fix a date for the debate.

He said it was not true that the Minority’s motion was admitted as an urgent one, since, although it was filed as such, it was only the Speaker who could determine whether a motion was urgent or not.

For his part, the Majority Chief Whip, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu said the Majority was not afraid to engage the Minority in a debate on the energy crisis but the proper thing should be done.

When the Speaker finally adjourned the sitting, the Minority members burst into the chorus, “Afraid, afraid, afraid”, with the Majority responding “Cheap people, cheap people, cheap people”.