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Business News of Friday, 2 August 2019

Source: classfmonline.com

Gov’t rushing loan agreements – Ato Forson

Member of Parliament for Ejumako Enyan Essiam, Cassiel Ato Forson, has said he is not a robot to properly read and scrutinise in an hour, between 80 and 150-page documents of loan agreement presented to parliament by the government for approval.

He told Accra 100.5FM’s Parliamentary reporter, Richard Appiah Sarpong in an interview on Friday, 2 August 2019 that the Akufo-Addo-led administration has gained notoriety for presenting bulky documents to parliament late and expect those documents to be approved in few hours.

He revealed that at around 11 PM Thursday, 1 August 2019, the government presented a voluminous loan agreement which when approved will empower the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to go for $2billion loan, and expected members of the house to approve it by the next morning.

The late submission of such documents, the former Deputy Minister for Finance, noted makes MPs unable to properly read and scrutinise the deal before their approval.

He said: “From last night to this morning a number of finance agreements have been laid before this house. We are expected to consider and approve them within a space of two hours.

“As a country, if we want to improve on our democracy and value for money there is the need for the country to institute some days to approve certain finance agreement.

“Last night, just before 11 PM a loan agreement was laid for COCOBOD to go and borrow $1.3bn, $7.5m and another $600m. If you are to aggregate all of these you will get about $2bn but the document was laid almost to midnight. How do you expect us to do due diligence on this matter? I don’t have much problem with the syndicated loan because we are familiar with it but what about the others that we are not familiar with?

“That is what I personally think that it is not something that we should encourage as a country. Things that are normally rushed we don’t get the right results from them.”

He added: “To avoid that kind of embarrassment with the PDS deal I will appeal to the president and the government that Parliament, sometimes, we come to the floor and we barely have work to do. Sometimes we close at 11 PM, sometimes we close at 12 AM.

“Let them bring those works beforehand so that we can do proper due diligence and advice government.

“We are not just here to oppose the government, we are here to add value to governance. We have a constitutional mandate to oversee what the executive is doing.

“I have mandate on expenditure, but what is happening? As we speak, am I actually exercising that mandate in an effective manner? No. Not because I am failing my job or relaxing on my job but because the government is not giving me the chance to do the work and I think the Speaker of Parliament must intervene and do what is right for the country.

“You give me one hour to read approximately 80-page document of a loan agreement. Sometimes 150 pages of a finance document, peruse it, understand it in one hour. Am I a robot? No.”