The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin has told his First Deputy, Joseph Osei Owusu (Joewise) that the attitude of dismissing a decision he Mr Bagbin has taken, is illegal and offensive.
He said the action is also unconstitutional.
This comes after Joewise overruled an earlier decision taken by Mr Bagbin on the motion filed by the Minority that was seeking a probe into the Covid-19 spending. Mr Alban Bagbin had early admitted the motion.
A livid Bagbin who noted that this is the second time Joewise is rubbishing his decisions said in Parliament on Wednesday February 23 “The penchant of the 1st Deputy Speaker to overrule my ruling is to say the least, unconstitutional, illegal and offensive. Be that as it may I shall not be taking any steps to overrule the decision of the 1st Deputy Speaker to dismiss the motion as moved by the Honorable ranking member of the Finance Committee.”
Mr Bagbin further assured that the two of them will meet and find a way out in order to prevent this development for recurring.
Regarding this matter, Deputy Majority Leader in Parliament, Alexander Afenyo-Markin said the Minority were being partisan with the motion they filed to investigate the utilization of Covid funds by the Government of Ghana.
The Effutu lawmaker said every Covid-19 expenditure is a matter of public records therefore, the government has nothing to hide.
His comments come after the Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu questioned the decision by the First Deputy Speaker to dismiss the motion.
Joewise in his ruling on Tuesday February 22 said “All the committees of the house including the Public Accounts Committee are bipartisan, and the Public Accounts Committee is designed by nature to be chaired by members of the Minority.
“In all its form, the Public Accounts Committee, if it is minded to investigate anything related to the Covid-19 expenditure, fully sees to the authority and power to investigate that, particularly because all the accounting of it has been provided for in the budget which budget has been provided by the House and is before the committee.
“My view is that this motion ought not to have been admitted, and it’s improperly before the House.”
Reacting to the Speaker’s ruling, the Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu said “The precedent that is being set is a worrying for the future of our parliament and I worry for the future of any parliamentary committee tomorrow, that will be under Article 133(3) of the 1992 Constitution to enquire into any matter of public interest.”
The motion was moved by ranking member on the Finance Committee Casiel Ato Forson.
He prayed the house to constitute a bi-partisan parliamentary committee chaired by a member of the minority caucus to probe the expenditures made by Ghana Government in relation to Covid-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020.
Also addressing the press on Tuesday February 22, Mr Afenyo-Markin said “We simply think that our colleagues are being overly partisan, it is part of their preparations towards 2024.
“Democracy is respect for rule of law and process, that is the only way democratic principles can be sustained. We can’t do it haphazardly, we can’t do it as and when it pleases us and as and when it suits us.
“Everything about public expenditure is a matter of public records. This house approves certain facilities, this house mandates government to spend certain money. There is no way, in this day and age with the Government Integrated Financial and Management Information System (GIFMIS) system, government can spend and hide, it is not possible. I repeat, there is no way government of Ghana can take public funds, spend and hide those expenditure, it is not possible.
“It is constitutional bonfide of the Auditor General. When the Auditor General is done with his work he will bring a report to Parliament, that is why the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is there.
“When the PAC does its work, the PAC has the mandate, after perusing the report to set up further committee to investigate and to look into other matters flowing from the issues that they have identified. So, I think that we should move one step at a time. We think they (Minority) want to usurp the powers of the Auditor General, we think that they want to bulldoze their way and then create a certain impression that there is some questionable expenditure which we think is unfair.”