The Third Session of the Eighth Parliament will commence tomorrow with proceedings mostly being dominated by how Parliament will urgently help deal with the current economic crisis plaguing the country.
With such a task, parliamentary business will focus mainly on diverse measures the House could adopt to trigger stronger economic recovery.
The Minority bench has a new leadership and how members will cooperate with them in conducting business in the House will be part of events that will unfold as the days go by.
The new leaders are Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah and Kwame Governs Agbodza,who have replaced Haruna Iddrisu, James Klutse Avedzi, Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, as Minority Leader, Deputy Minority Leader and Minority Chief Whip, respectively.
Top on agenda
Top on the agenda will be Members of Parliament (MPs) inviting the Finance Minister particularly to appear frequently to provide clarity on a number of economic-related factors that had triggered the country’s current economic challenges.
MPs may seek answers to uncertainties around the implementation of the domestic debt exchange programme (DDEP) and the public funds expended on the National Cathedral project.
It is anticipated that the MPs may also push for a public hearing into the infractions contained in the Auditor- General’s report on COVID-19 expenditures, probe into corruption associated with the Computerised School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) and the gold for oil deal.
The President will appear in Parliament to deliver a message on the State of the Nation Address and assure Ghanaians of various interventions being undertaken to tackle the high inflation and the depreciation of the cedi.
The House will also seek to know the fate of the three absentee MPs who absented themselves from Parliament for more than 15 days without written permission from the Speaker of Parliament, as well as the status of the LGBTQI+ Bill.
The House may also vet a number of persons who may be nominated by the President to fill the vacancies of the ministries of Trade and Industry, Food and Agriculture, Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs in which the substantive ministers have resigned from their positions.
There will also be a possible motion to push through a censure motion against the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, as well as any possible drama that may unfold in how the Minority Caucus will cooperate with its new leadership.
Clarity on DDE programme
First, with less clarity on how the government will be proceeding with the DDEP, MPs are billed to move motion(s) or file urgent questions to call for the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, to come to the House to provide answers to concerns raised by Ghanaians on the possible impact of the programme on their investments, failure of which the House may reject endorsing the programme.
Secondly, legislators, particularly from the Minority Caucus, are likely to initiate motion(s) or file urgent questions to demand a public parliamentary inquiry to unravel the scandal surrounding the National Cathedral project or seek answers on how the taxpayers’ money had been expended for the execution of the project.
This has become critical, especially following a recent call by two member of the board of trustees of the National Cathedral Secretariat — Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams and Rev. Eastwood Anaba for the suspension of the project until after a comprehensive and independent auditing had been done.
COVID-19 expenditure probe
With regard to the Auditor-General’s report on COVID-19 expenditures, there is an anticipation that the MPs from the Minority Caucus definitely will demand the Office of the Special Prosecutor or Public Accounts Committee to investigate those persons who were implicated in the report to have misapplied and embezzled public funds.
Given the widespread abuse of the funds as cited in the report, it is highly likely the Speaker may set up an ad hoc committee or allow the Public Accounts Committee to probe and compel the AG to exercise his power of surcharge or disallowance to retrieve the misapplied COVID funds.
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