US$60 million COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness loan not approved

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Ghana Parliament
Parliament

The Eighth Parliament at the end of the First Meeting of its Third Session failed to approve a US$60.6 million loan as a Third Additional Financing for the Ghana COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Project.

The facility is a Financing Agreement between the Government of Ghana and the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank Group.

Mr Kwaku Agyeman Kwarteng, the Chairman of the Finance Committee of Parliament, moved the Motion for the House to adopt the Report of the Committee.

However, when Speaker Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin put the question to a voice vote on two occasions, those against the approval of the loan agreement had it.

This forced Mr Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin, the Deputy Majority Leader to call for a division.
His request led to a heated argument between Members of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) Majority and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) Minority Caucus.

Dr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, the NDC Minority Leader, said the agreement reached during leadership meeting with their colleagues on the other side of the House was for the House to take the revenue Bills and then to consider the Committee of the Whole report during the Friday’s all-night marathon session of the House.

“Mr Speaker, we’ve just done that, I am surprised we are going to take loans at this time,” he said.
He said there was no consensus on the matter in question and that it was already passed midnight, adding that they were yet to conclude the sitting of the House with their closing remarks.

“Mr Speaker, we can’t continue this way, members are struggling to survive. Already some of our members are in the Hospital, I am told. So, Mr Speaker, we can’t continue this way. So, let’s end the day.”

Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the NPP Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business, noted that the Loan Agreement report under consideration before the House was part of the Order Paper of the House for the day; stating that the Minority had position themselves to resist the Budget Bills.

“So, Mr Speaker, in this House, whenever we have not exhausted the Business of the House, and we have critical businesses we continue.”

He said the Financial Bills were supposed to have been considered by the House during their previous meeting, but it was rescheduled to the first meeting of their Third Session.

He further appealed to the House to approve of the loan agreement before they adjourn sine die.
However, the Minority Caucus stood their grounds that the House should adjourn without approving the loan.

The Speaker proposed to the House that he was ready to recall them on the 14th and 15th of April, for them to consider the approval of the loan facility for the Ghana COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Project, the House however, did not accept his proposal.

Following the call for a division, the Whips of both sides of the House quickly rallied their members into the Chamber.
When the Speaker, decided to go ahead with the division, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, stepped in and asked that the division be called off and that they should go ahead with their closing remarks for the House to adjourn.

Prior to the House adjourning sine die for the Easter breaker, it passed four major revenue bills, which are the Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and Income Tax (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2022.

The rest are Growth and Sustainability Bill, 2022 and the Ghana Revenue Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2022.

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