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General News of Friday, 16 November 2001

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Tussle between Minister and Minority Spokesman

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The Speaker, Peter Ala Adjetey on Thursday saved Albert Kan-Dapaah, Minister of Energy and Kofi Asante, Minority Spokesman on Energy from a tussle that nearly turned Parliament into a battle ground for the two during the debate on the government's mid-year budget review and economic policy statement.

The situation compelled the Speaker to use his gavel several times and shouted at the top of his voice continually warning them that he did not want the debate to generate into a tussle between the Minister of Energy and the Ranking member.

Hardly had the Speaker ended his warning when Mr Asante demanded to know from the Minister where the strategic fuel depots that the Minister had promised the nation in the budget statement this year were.

In another move Mr Asante said the petroleum prices had come down and that by his calculation Ghanaians should now be paying not more than 7,000 cedis per gallon.

Mr Kan-Dapaah shot back saying that the Ranking Member's calculation was wrong. Mr Asante replied that his calculation was right because he was a mathematician. The Minister shouted: "It is not correct, it is not correct.... You don't know your mathematics..."

The Speaker cut in and said: "Mr Minister, let him make his presentation. Whether he is a magician, a mathematician or a saint are irrelevant to the issue," setting the House into laughter and uproar.

Hardly had Mr Asante and Kan-Dapaah's clash died down when the House was set in drama of uproar amidst banging of tables and heckling.

It started when the Speaker, who was having a tight control over time allocation to members to make their contributions, decided to give Alban Bagbin, the Minority Leader 25 minutes to make his submission on the debate.

Papa Owusu-Ankomah, the Majority Leader standing for some time without catching the eye of the Speaker protested that Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, was given only three minutes to contribute and while he was protesting the uproar started.

After the situation calmed down the Speaker said as at Wednesday he insisted that many members should make their contributions but they were no where to be found and now that he wanted to put the question they wanted to rush in with their contributions. Mr Bagbin and Mr Osafo-Maafo separately commended the Speaker for controlling the heated and interesting debate.

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