Bagbin Angry Over Truant Ministers

Alban Bagbin

SPEAKER OF Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has said it is “not acceptable” for ministers to decide when they will appear before the House to answer questions from Members of Parliament (MPs).

According to him, ministers do not decide when they appear before the House to answer their questions, noting that such ministers would be called to account before the Privileges Committee if they failed to attend upon the House.

Reacting to concerns expressed by the leadership of both sides of the House about the failure of the Transport Minister, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, to appear in the chamber to answer various questions standing in his name, Speaker Bagbin warned ministers not to ride roughshod over the House.

He said such attitude constitutes contempt of Parliament, and quoted Article 122 of the 1992 Constitution to buttress his point, adding that the Transport Minister’s conduct “seems to be negating all the gains he made in the House” as one of the ministers considered to be punctual in the chamber.

“I am tempted to refer him to the Privileges Committee, but because of the intervention by leadership I resist that temptation and I will not refer him to the Privileges Committee for today.

“[Any] next conduct tantamount to this behaviour, he will be referred to the Privileges Committee. I will not accept his request that the questions be rescheduled for Thursday, I will refer it to the Business Committee to re-programme him,” he stated.

The Speaker again said the House would not use the language that “the Minister is unavoidably absent” pinned as reasons by Chief Directors of Ministries without providing reasonable explanation on why a minister cannot attend upon the House.

Earlier on, both the Majority Leader, Frank Annoh-Dompreh and the Minority Leader, Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka expressed disdain about the Transport Minister’s attitude towards the House.

Mr. Annoh-Dompreh said, “It is about time they took us seriously. Any time a number of them are unable to attend upon the House they have given notice ahead of time. For me that is the thrust of your (Muntaka’s) worry.”

“The notice should come ahead of time. We understand that it is a human institution they are manning, but you cannot bring your excuse duty on the same day that you are supposed to appear before this House,” he submitted.

He continued, “That is totally unacceptable and it’s something we shouldn’t romance at all. But having said that we will reach out to the minister to let him know that the House is not happy about this and we will work assiduously to ensure that we re-programme him as soon as possible.”

BY Ernest Kofi Adu