Members of Parliament (MPs) for the Adjumaku/Enyan/Essiam constituency and Juaboso Constituency, Cassiel Ato Forson and Kwabena Minta Akandoh respectively have debunked claims by the Parliamentary Service that the Minority has not asked any question related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parliament had claimed through a press statement on Tuesday signed by its Director of Public Affairs, Kate Addo, that the Minority MPs told lies when they claimed to have asked a question on Covid -19 in the House.
Addressing the Media in Parliament on Wednesday, the two MPs indicated that, it was Parliament rather, that has lied to Ghanaians.
Backing their claim with a “Form for Notice of Question, Parliament of Ghana”, they claimed Hon. Kwabena Mintah Akandoh who also doubles as the Ranking Member on Health had per the form, dated March 13, 2020 filed an urgent question to the Minister of Health on the emergency preparedness and response plan the Ministry had put in place to contain the spread of COVID–19. They also asked for details on the $100m announced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
They maintained that the said urgent question had been endorsed by the Table Office of Parliament which is in charge of such issues on March 17, 2020.
According to them, in accordance with the Standing Orders of Parliament, such urgent questions should be advertised on the Order Paper of Parliament within 21 days after certification.
However, since the dates of filling on March 13, 2020 and March 17, 2020, the question has not as yet been advertised on the Order Paper, let alone being answered by the Minister.
While claiming that Parliament, and for that matter the Table Office had failed to do their work well, they expressed regret that the Public Affairs Department of Parliament which is supposed to be for all MPs, has now become an appendix to the NPP Government.
WE WILL CHASE THEM
Ato Forson and Akandoh however maintained that all this notwithstanding; they will chase government for the detailed accounts on expenditure on COVID-19 lock-down.
According to them, prior to the lockdown, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced that a 100 million dollar facility had been procured by the Government towards the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, the Minister of Finance had appeared before Parliament to announce that the Ministry had sent $3.5m to the buffer stock for the purchase of grains, GH¢200m for water supply and also GH¢40m on food during the period of the lock-down.
But the Government had remained adamant in accounting to Ghanaians the expenditure pertaining to the lock down period despite the Minority’s constant call in this respect. They maintained that to steal from Ghanaians in times of need was just too bad and that is why they were calling for a detailed account of the Expenditure during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
Hon. Ato Forson stated that he will personally go to the Auditor-General to serve notice via a hand delivery letter, to demand accountability from the Government in respect of COVID-19 lockdown expenditure.
Hon. Akandoh on his side opined that “If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear in times of accountability”.
He indicated that the Speaker of Parliament had charged the Parliamentary Committee on Health which he happens to be the Ranking Member to meet regularly to deliberate on issues pertaining to COVID-19 since the beginning of the outbreak. He said the Committee subsequently agreed to meet on weekly basis. “Strangely enough, the Committee had met on only two (2) occasions, with the Minister being present on only one occasion. I wondered why this constant dodging of the committee meetings by the Minister. It is intriguing,” he stated.
Ato Forson has described the action of the government in this regard as simply shameful.
By S. O. Ankamah