General News of Monday, 24 December 2018
Members of Parliament on Saturday night fumed, they are tired and frustrated as the house sat for about 13 hours to finish outstanding businesses before Christmas break.
Parliament would usually not sit on Saturdays but they did so over the weekend in order to complete undone work, reports Joy News’ parliamentary correspondent, Joseph Opoku Gakpo.
Proceedings began around 11am on Saturday. The house took two separate brief breaks around 12:30 pm and 4 pm. But sitting eventually ended around 12:05 am on Sunday morning.
Around 10:20pm on Saturday night as the house debated the Fiscal Responsibility Act for approval, Minority Chief Whip Muntaka Mubarack got on his feet to protest.
“We are exhausted. We are human beings. We are not machines. We cannot just continue this way. It is not fair. We are not being fair to ourselves. We have our health to protect.
“We are human beings, we have families, we have lives to protect,” he said with anger whilst banging the table and demanding that the house speeds up the processes so sitting can end.
Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu responded insisting it is normal that the house sits late into the night when it is passing the Appropriations Act each year, to give government money to spend in the year ahead.
“Let nobody suggest that this house in the passage of the Appropriations Bill never went beyond 10pm. Let nobody say so. We need to be truthful to ourselves,” the Majority Leader insisted forcefully, further upsetting the Minority Chief Whip.
But Muntaka Mubarack fought back. “The Majority Leader must know that he leads this house. The rest of us have the right to show our frustrations.
“But he cannot as the majority Leader be responding like this whilst we are frustrated as a result of the businesses he has overloaded. He should not be talking the way he is doing,” he said.
“But I am also telling him on record; there have never been a Saturday that this house sat until this time. He should be more reconciliatory because he has packed the business. So he should be pleading with us. But we have every right to show our frustration,” the Asawase MP added.
No air condition
In the background, some minority MPs shouted; “we are tired, we are tired,” supporting the position of the Minority Chief Whip.
But Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin who was presiding over the sitting, chastised MPs who were protesting.
“You are having air condition. Where I am seated, there is no air condition. And I am sweating. You can see I am fanning myself. And so if I can endure it, why not you?”
Before the house went on the break, it passed the appropriation act giving has government the approval to spend about GH78.7 billion in the year 2019.
The house also passed the fiscal responsibility act 2018 to ensure the country’s budget deficit each year does not exceed five percent of GDP.
The law says parliament will have the right to, by a vote of censure, remove the Finance Minister if this happens.
It also approved the Excise Tax Stamp Amendment Act and now, tax stamps will be fixed on textiles to ensure importers pay all necessary taxes.
The house again approved a $300 million loan for COCOBOD to raise additional funds.
The house also passed the enhanced controversial AMERI power agreement laid last month by Energy Minister Peter Amewu.
Two legislative instruments to allow for the operationalisation of the Office of the Special Prosecutor were also approved by the house.