Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, Minority Chief Whip on Thursday said it was “unacceptable” for the finance minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta to fail to attend Parliament’s invitation to answer questions of national concern.
He noted that some of the questions, which were as old as nine months, did not deserve the treatment that the finance minister showed.
“Mr Speaker, I find this to be very unacceptable, the finance minister can find time to go around for various town hall meetings and yet he doesn’t want to come to this House to answer the representatives of the people.
“Mr Speaker, if you check these questions about 10 or so of them, about 13 of them, Mr Speaker, have been outstanding for an exceptionally long time. Today we are told the finance minister is going to hold a press conference to address the country, he is failing to come to the House to answer the questions. He writes that he is gathering facts on the questions.
“Mr Speaker, for how long should it take ministers to address this House to answer questions. And Mr Speaker, with your permission, if I may read how long it will take a minister to come and answer questions, Mr Speaker, the minister is supposed to answer questions in the House within two weeks of a notice served him,” he said.
Mr Muntaka raised the concern on the floor of Parliament during plenary session when Mr Frank Annoh Dompreh, the Majority Chief Whip requested that the Speaker adopt a motion report of the Finance Committee on Ghana’s subscription to 11, 996 shares allocated by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group.
Mr Muntaka pointed out that the two-week notice had been standing for over eight months.
“Mr Speaker, I am worried that, if we keep accommodating the finance minister with excuses these questions will not be answered,” he said.
The Minority Chief Whip pleaded with the First Deputy Speaker, Mr Joseph Osei Owusu who was presiding over the proceedings at that time, to compel the minister to come before the House to answer pending questions.
“Mr Speaker, we should give a definitive sanction to the finance minister to come and answer the questions.
“So Mr Speaker, if he cannot get time to do the work, he should tell the president, His excellency, but if truly he wants to do the work, he should be answerable to questions and the house and come to the house,” Mr Muntaka said.
Mr Annoh-Dompreh said the questions advertised in the name of the finance minister had gone through proceedings and had been admitted by the speaker.
Debating that the questions had not been advertised for eight months, he said a working agreement had been adopted between leadership that where a sector minister was unable to attend upon the House, at least some correspondence should be received a day ahead of when the minister was expected to come and answer the said question.
“Mr Speaker, we received his correspondence, I personally followed up to ensure that this correspondence got to this House yesterday, so I can understand the concern of our colleague except to give our colleague that finance minister has not on any occasion refused to come and attend upon this house and answer questions. So, I plead with my colleagues to accord the respect to the Deputy in this House and let us proceed with today’s proceedings,” he said.
Mr Osei Owusu, advised that the table office and business committee re-programmed the questions to be answered by the finance minister.