Parliament has 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.
At the end of its Third Session on March 31, the Chairman of the Finance Committee of Parliament, Kwaku Kwarteng, 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 the Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin, 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.
The Minority Leader, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, said the agreement reached during the leadership meeting with their colleagues on the other side of the House was for the House to take the revenue bills and then consider the whole report during 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 past 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”.
The NPP Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 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 positioned 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 the Third Session.
He further appealed to the House to approve the loan agreement before they adjourned sine die.
However, the Minority Caucus stood on the grounds that the House should adjourn without approving the loan.
The Speaker proposed to the House that he was ready to recall them April 14 and 15 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 sine die for the Easter break.
Gov’t to restrict importation of rice, ‘yemuadie’ and other products
The government is set to lay before Parliament today, November 21, a Constitutional Instrument (C.I) seeking to restrict the importation of selected strategic products into the country.
The items, numbering over 20, will include rice, tripe (popularly called “yemuadie” in Ghana), and diapers.
The government said the move is part of efforts to enhance local production.
Speaking during a press briefing in Parliament, the Minister of Trade and Industry, K.T Hammond said, “Stomach of animals, bladder and the chunk of intestines (yemuadie), the country had had to put in an amount of about $164 million towards the importation of these items. We are taking steps to ensure that in terms of rice, there’s no poverty of rice in the country.”
He emphasized, “By these restrictions, we are not going to ensure that there’s no food in the country at all; that is not the point at all. There have to be some efforts by the government to ensure that we go back to Acheampong’s operation feed yourself. There are about 22 items on the list, one of them, I think, is diapers.”
He announced the introduction of the Ghana Standards Authority Regulations 2023, which also seeks to streamline the manufacturing of cement to ensure competitive pricing.
Mahama doesn’t understand 24hr economy; don’t vote for him – Bawumia
Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia says former President John Dramani Mahama does not understand the 24-hour economy policy he is proposing.
According to the Vice President, that policy is already being implemented in the country, as hospitals, fuel companies, among others, operate a 24-hour system.
Dr. Bawumia, therefore, urged Ghanaians to ignore Mahama during the 2024 polls since he has nothing new to offer and vote for the New Patriotic Party.
“John Mahama says he has a new idea. What is the idea? He says he wants a 24-hour economy. He doesn’t even understand that policy. Today in Ghana, our hospitals work 24 hours, our electricity company works 24 hours, our water company works 24 hours, our fuel stations work 24 hours, and many chop bars work 24 hours. Today because of digitalisation, you can transfer money 24 hours, you can receive money 24 hours… So he doesn’t understand his own policy. It doesn’t make sense.”
“So I want you to vote for me in 2024 because I will bring a new vision, I will bring a new policy. Mahama is the past, Dr Bawumia is the future. If John Mahama was there, we would say we have a dumsor economy, you can’t have a 24-hour economy in dumsor. So, you want to vote for Dr Bawumia in 2024, we will take the country to new heights,” Dr Bawumia stated.
Bagbin rebukes IMF over alleged pressure to pass some bills under certificate of urgency
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has accused the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of pressuring the House to pass a number of bills under a certificate of urgency.
Mr. Bagbin cited bills such as the Affirmative Action Bill, which is allegedly being pushed by the IMF as part of the conditionality for the balance of the $3 billion credit facility for Ghana.
Speaking at the Speaker’s Breakfast Meeting on Monday, Alban Bagbin insisted that the House will not be coerced by the IMF to pass the bill.
“Even in this budget, you can see the arm of the IMF in a lot of provisions in the budget. A critical bill like the Affirmative Action Gender Equality Bill has come to Parliament under a certificate of urgency. Please, it won’t happen; we won’t pass it under a certificate of urgency.”
“There are critical stakeholders we must consult and make sure we go together. We will not be dictated by the IMF; that one, you can be assured. This is a very critical bill that the IMF should know that we need the buy-in of the stakeholders to be able to implement it,” Alban Bagbin said.
The Affirmative Action Bill, when passed into law, would seek to expunge the historically low representation of women in decision-making spaces and promote democracy and development through all-inclusive participation.