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General News of Monday, 12 March 2018


Speaker refutes Minority’s discrimination claims

The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, has refuted suggestions that he is discriminating against the Minority side of the House by his refusal to allow for more supplementary questions.

He said it was the decision of the previous Parliament to allocate one hour to enable the House to contain more questions within the period alloted.

"All leaders in this House know that what the Speaker is now saying is the decision of leadership so that as many members as possible will have the chance to ask their questions and I am applying those rules impartially," he said.

Prof. Oquaye made the remarks last Thursday, a day after the Minority Members in Parliament staged a walkout over what they said was the Speaker's continuous refusal to recognise their leaders.

Their concern was that the Speaker of Parliament did not call the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, to ask a Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Kennedy Nyarko Osei, a follow-up question as was the convention in the House.

The question they said related to the answer Mr Nyarko Osei had provided on the Export Trade, Agriculture and Industrial Fund (EDAIF) support for irrigation infrastructure for horticultural crops production.

Policy procedure

Prof. Oquaye said the limitation of the questions was the same policy procedure during the immediate past Parliament which was adopted by the House and it applied across the board.

He said, it was most improper that when they had all agreed on matters of procedure, an impression was being created "that somebody is being discriminated against”, and stressed that "that is not so”.

"Anybody who was in the past Parliament would know that that was what prevailed. And it was adopted," he said.

Prof. Oquaye averred that if leaders wanted to review that procedure they could discuss that with him at their next meeting.

Minority Leader's take

Mr Iddrisu said the Minority members had accepted the admonition of the Speaker on that matter.

But he said per Order 69, supplementary questions were derived from the substantive matter.

"We need to make distinctions. That is why we are masters of our own rules," he said.

Mr Iddrisu said the leaders would engage the Speaker further on the issue as he had suggested.