First Deputy Speaker Joe Osei-Owusu was excusing himself during Monday night’s sitting to take his medication and go to the washroom, Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has said.
The house was thrown into chaos amidst fisticuffs during a vote on the controversial e-levy bill.
The free-for-all brawl started after the Minority tried stopping Mr Osei-Owusu, who was presiding over the business of the house, from going onto the floor to take part in the vote.
According to Mr Kyei-Menash-Bonsu, however, the Bekwai MP was not well and, so, needed a respite during the balloting on the floor about whether or not the controversial 1.75 per cent e-levy should be considered under a certificate of urgency.
“Is it the case that a speaker can’t even excuse himself to visit the loo?” Is it the case?” Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu asked in an interview with the parliamentary press.
“The man was indisposed”, he noted, adding: “He was shivering”.
“And he went to the clinic; the record is there. So, we had to persuade him to come and sit. He was in the chamber and he
was shaking like a leaf.”
“We had to go and prevail on him to come and preside”, the Suame MP stressed.
“Of course”, he pointed out, “if he’s presiding, given his own long tenure in Parliament, his own understanding of the rules and procedures in Parliament, we thought that he’d be able to
navigate crises periods, with respect, much more than the second deputy speaker
but it was getting too much for him”.
“So, he said he wanted to excuse himself to take his medication and then, perhaps, to come back if he felt okay, or, perhaps, maybe to sit somewhere,” Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said.
Asked if Mr Osei-Owusu was not excusing himself so he could take part in the voting on the floor, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu retorted: “What if he did? What if he did to take his medication and he came, voting was not over and he thought that because somebody else what presiding he could participate in that? What of that? Is there any illegality in that? There’s no illegality”.
Meanwhile, Parliament has adjourned sitting sine die to 18January 2022.
This means the controversial e-levy has not been passed and would be revisited in 2022 when the House reconvenes.
Following a brawl in Parliament on Monday, 20 December 2021 over the e-levy, the Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, today, Tuesday, 21 December 2021, prayed the sit-in Speaker, First Deputy Speaker Joe Osei-Owusu, to adjourn the house until January 18, 2022, for cooler heads to prevail.
According to him, tensions were still high to conduct business.
He said: “We adjourned sitting yesterday [Monday] and indicated to ourselves that the house will be reconvening at 9:00 am today, [Tuesday, December 21, 2021] but we have been waiting for all this while making the necessary calls but thus far, nothing responsive, and I think where we are if we take an adjournment, it will
allow coolers to come back to this house, and then we come back to continue with business in a much more serene environment. In that regard, Mr Speaker, I
invite you to adjourn the house in the hope that we can come back on January 18.”
He was seconded by Minority leader Haruna Iddrisu who said the adjournment will allow for further deliberations.
“It is important that we carry the country along, and we need to demonstrate to the country that our democracy is growing and will not suffer some unacceptable scenes and spectacles we’ve witnessed on the floor.
“So, I can only concur with what the leader has said, so you adjourn the House sine die for some consultation on the outstanding issue,” Mr Iddrisu said.
Parliament on Monday night, 20 December 2021 became a boxing arena as the House voted for the 1.75 e-levy bill.
The rumpus started when First Deputy Speaker Joe Osei-Owusu, who was presiding over the business of the house in the absence of Speaker Alban Bagbin, attempted to also cast his ballot on whether or not the e-levy bill should be considered under a certificate of urgency.
MPs from either side of the house were seen exchanging blows over the matter, which threw the whole house into chaos.
Earlier in the day, the Finance Committee of Parliament approved the controversial e-levy bill.
The Minority side, made up of 12 members, voted against it while the 12 members on the Majority side voted for it.
The Chairman of the Committee voted in favour of the bill to break the tie. This meant it had to be put before the plenary for a certificate of urgency vote.
The NDC and its Minority are against the 1.75 per cent levy which will affect electronic transactions.
Several calls on the government to drop the proposed tax has fallen on deaf ears.
The government has explained that the upsurge in the use of e-payment platforms, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been an impetus for the introduction of the levy.
As a result, Ghana recorded a total of GHS500 billion from e-transactions in 2020 compared with GHS78 billion in 2016.
The government says the e-Levy proceeds will be used to support entrepreneurship, youth employment, cyber security, and digital and road infrastructure, among others.