You are here: HomeNews2022 12 21Article 1683971

General News of Wednesday, 21 December 2022


Year In Review: Unprecedented parliamentary incidents in 2022

A scene from parliament A scene from parliament

Even though the beginning of the eighth parliament had major happenings like a hung parliament and the election of the speaker from the opposition party, among others, the year 2022 had some unprecedented incidents that got the nation talking.

GhanaWeb compiles a list of some of these happenings;

Majority calls for Dome-Kwabenya's seat to be declared vacant

On April 5, 2022, Speaker Alban Bagbin directed Adwoa Safo, Kennedy Agyapong, and Henry Quartey to the Privileges Committee.

The Speaker's directive was in line with Article 97(1)(c) of the 1992 Constitution and Order 17 of the Standing Orders of Parliament, which states emphatically that "A Member shall not absent himself during a meeting for more than fifteen sittings without the permission in writing of the Speaker. Any member infringing this Order shall have his conduct referred to the Privileges Committee."

The Privileges Committee produced a report after meeting the two other MPs, Ken Agyapong and Henry Quartey, and presented it to parliament.

The Privileges Committee said in their report that they could not reach Adwoa Safo; therefore, they could not come out with a decision, but the majority maintained that whether or not they heard from Adwoa Safo, the constitution stated clearly that the seat should be declared vacant, as it was automatic for it to be so.

However, when the report was brought to the house, the majority leader insisted that the committee had submitted the report to the house and the report had been laid for the information of the house and, therefore, a decision had already been determined concerning the three persons and the imperatives of Article 97 would automatically be triggered.

The majority leader added that what was captured as a motion in the order paper had issues, as the purpose of a motion is for the house to make a determination, one he considers already determined (by declaring the seat vacant).

"Mr Speaker, the privileges committee have submitted the report, and indeed, my own thinking and the incumbent of the situation is that once the committee has made a determination in respect of the three persons, then the imperative of Article 97 will automatically be triggered.

"Mr. Speaker, my thinking is that even what is captured here as a motion, the purpose of a motion is for the house to make a determination and thinking that rarely this is not for the house to make a determination."

The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, argued that the house is governed by the 1992 constitution and the standing orders of the house.

According to him, the house should not set a precedent that a seat can be declared vacant based on recommendations of a Privileges Committee report, a precedent that could likely affect the house subsequently.

Haruna Iddrisu emphasized that if a report has been submitted to parliament, the house must take a decision.

However, the Speaker dismissed this call by the majority, stating that the report from the committee was not final but to be brought before the house for the plenary to take a decision on the matter.

The Speaker is yet to take a decision on this matter, even though Adwoa Safo officially returned to the House on November 11, 2022.

NPP MPs protesting against an appointee of their govt

On October 25, a group of New Patriotic Party (NPP) Members of Parliament petitioned President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to sack the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, and the Minister of State at the Finance Ministry, Charles Adu Boahen, to restore public confidence in the economy.

This was announced in a media briefing by their spokesperson, Andy Kwame Appiah-Kubi, Member of Parliament for Asante-Akim North.

The group said it will not partake in government business nor support the 2023 budget if the president fails to heed their calls.

According to them, the move follows previous concerns sent to the government that had not yielded any positive results.

"We have had occasions to defend allegations of conflicts of interest, lack of confidence, and trust against the leadership of the Finance Ministry.

"The recent development within the economy is of major concern to our caucus and our constituents. We have made our grave concern to our president through the parliamentary leadership and the leadership of the party without any positive response," Andy Appiah Kubi said.

The MPs believe the move would change the current economic situation in the country.

This action has been described as unprecedented, as many have also called on the president to take action to avoid political instability.

However, just at the time these calls were made, a video of Aremeyaw Anas' latest exposé, dubbed 'Galamsey Economy' compelled President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to sack the Minister of State in Charge of Finance, Charles Adu Boahen, from office.

Charles Adu Boahen alleged on video that Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia needs just USD 200,000 as an 'appearance fee' and some positions from an investor for his siblings to get his backing and influence in establishing a business in Ghana.

A few days before the budget reading, the leadership of the New Patriotic Party called on the aggrieved members not to boycott the budget reading.

They obliged this plea and showed up in their numbers for the budget.

Joe Wise overturns major decision by Alban Bagbin again

On February 22, 2022, the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu, threw out a motion by the minority for a bipartisan committee to look into the government's COVID-19 expenditure.

This is after the Speaker, Alban Bagbin, had admitted the motion before leaving his chair for the First Deputy Speaker to continue with proceedings in the chamber on the day.

It is not the first time the First Deputy Speaker has overturned a decision by the Speaker of Parliament.

Motion by Minority to probe COVID-19 expenditure

On February 22, the Minority in Parliament presented a memo to the House seeking to probe the government's expenditure on COVID-19 from 2020.

The motion, championed by three members of the minority, proposed, "that this house constitutes a bi-partisan parliamentary committee chaired by a member of the minority caucus, to enquire into the expenditures made by the Ghana Government in relation to COVID-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020."

Haruna Iddrisu, Minority Leader; Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, Minority Chief Whip; and Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson, Ranking Member on Parliament's Finance Committee, were the proposed members.

The motion was presented and read by Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson as he outlined the need for the house to probe the expenditure.

Ato Forson stated that an amount of 1.2 billion Ghana cedis was approved by parliament to support the Coronavirus alleviation program, but the government is yet to account for their expenditure, even though they exceeded the approved amount to 8.2 billion Ghana cedis.

Seconding the motion, the Member of Parliament for Asawase, Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, added that the health ministry, per the 2021 budget review, was only able to account for an amount of 600 million Ghana cedis.

However, before the debate could continue, Speaker Alban Bagbin requested that the Deputy First Speaker take the chair, leaving the actual debate in the hands of Joseph Osei Owusu.

After the motion was seconded, the Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, raised a preliminary objection to the motion.

He described the motion as baseless and urged the sit-in Speaker to reject the motion.

Making reference to Article 187 of the Constitution, he indicated that the Auditor General is the best person to investigate the matter and not any other committee.

Ruling on the motion, Joe Wise said the Speaker, Alban Bagbin, should not have admitted the motion.

"My view is that the motion ought not to have been admitted and it is improperly before the house. I so rule," he said.

Parliament passes 1.5% E-levy amid Minority MPs walkout

On March 29, the Minority Members of Parliament staged a walk-out before the Electronic Transfer Levy (E-Levy) Bill 2021 was passed.

The walkout occurred after the House had concluded the debate on the bill and the Speaker was to put the question on the motion for the adoption of the Finance

The Committee's report in 2.4 million, approximately eight per cent of the population, were registered as personal income taxpayers.

Prior to the walking out, the minority had complained that the E-Levy bill consideration came as a surprise as it was not listed in Parliament's business statement for the week.

However the bill was passed after the 137 MPs of the Minority side of Parliament staged a walkout of the Chamber, on the grounds that they did not want to be associated with any further proceedings on or approval of the bill, which was being considered under a certificate of urgency.