Commotion In Parliament

The Minority Members of Parliament, yesterday, went ‘wild’ and refused to continue with government business, due to the delay in the disbursement of their quarterly Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) Funds, and other statutory funds meant for development projects in the country.

The members of the minority began beating their seats and screaming “We want our common funds! No, no, we want our common funds,” when the House was considering a motion for the approval of a wäiver.

According to the angered members, the Leader of the august House, Benjamin Kunbuor, had promised to communicate to them the reason why their funds were yet to be released, and the way forward at 2 O’clock yesterday afternoon.

The law makers refused to take part in the consideration stage of the request for a wäiver which was before them for deliberation and subsequent approval when the time clocked 2:00 p.m. and they had not heard anything from the Leader, as promised.

The wävier, which was captured in the Order Paper as item 11, was for wävier of customs duty, Value Added Tax (VAT), National Health Insurance, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) levy, export development investment fund, destination inspection fees, processing fees, and withholding tax, amounting to US$670,949 on goods and equipment required for the implementation of the Rural Enterprises Programme (REP).

The Second Deputy Speaker, Barton Odro, who presided over the House, pleaded with the members to continue with government business, and assured them of hearing from the Leader.

“Hon. Members, the Leader is not in the House at the moment, but if that is what he had promised, then I will ask he appears and explains things to you. Hon. Members, bear with us, because the leaders are in a meeting,” he said.

Earlier in the House, the law makers approved a loan amounting to US$41.10 million and a grant amount of US$35.42 million between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the African Development Bank (AFDB) to finance the Rural Enterprises Programme (REP) phase III.

The REP is aimed at reducing poverty and improving upon the living conditions of people in the rural areas of the country. Submitting the report to the House, the Chairman of the Finance Committee, James Klutse Avedzi, said the phase I of the programme was implemented between 1995 and 2002 in 13 districts in the Ashanti and the Brong Ahafo regions respectively.

According to him, the phase II, which also commenced in 2003 to 2012, covered a total of 66 districts, stressing that both phases had contributed significantly to promoting Micro and Small Enterprises (SME) in the areas.

To that end, he said the programme needed to be scaled up to help promote rural enterprise activities within all the districts, hence the need to approve the said loan facility.

“The government, therefore, intends to implement REP III to help improve livelihoods of rural poor, promote micro and small scale enterprises, and increase the income of rural SMEs for profit, growth, and employment creation,” he noted.

But the Minority Leader, Kyei Mensah Bonsu, in seconding the approval of the loan, said, even though it was a good initiative, the committee’s report should have highlighted the level of poverty the phase I and II of the programme had achieved.

He argued that it was not enough that the Chairman of the committee said the programme needed to be scaled up, because the first two had been successful, without any proof.

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Commotion In Parliament

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