Sleeping MPs: Minority thwarts approval of 2016 budget

Plans by the minority to thwart government business in parliament after being accused of sleeping on the job by the president, has been set in motion.

Today, Wednesday, they succeeded in preventing the start of the debate and approval of the 2016 budget and other business of government.

Despite several pleas from the First Deputy Speaker, Ebo Barton-Odro, the Minority would not back down demanding an adjournment because the house did not form a quorum.

After two hours of heated argument Mr. Barton-Odro adjourned the house.

Deputy Work and Housing Minister, Samson Ahi accused the Minority of seeking to sabotage government business due to the president’s comments.

He told Joy News’ Parliamentary correspondent, Elton Brobbey that the MPs who reported to work formed a quorum. However, he said, when the issue of quorum was raised, some of the MPs –both minority and majority – had left the chamber for the coffee shop.

Even Papa Owusu Ankomah and Ursula Owusu Ekuful who raised the issue about quorum where not in the chamber at the time Parliament adjourned sitting, he claimed.

Parliament needs not less than 92 members to form a quorum but Mr. Ahi admitted that when sitting was adjourned, there were only 80 out of 275 MPs in the house.

MP for Tema East, Nii Titus Glover who questioned the limited numbers present told Joy News the Minority will stick to the procedure in the standing orders.

“If we don’t have one third we cannot not do business,” he insisted. He admitted that the Minority had in the past consented and did business with less number than today, but said they would not continue to sidestep Article 48 which talks about quorum.

Joy News gathered that most of the over 140 members from the Majority side did not show up because they were stuck in their constituency after the NDC parliamentary primaries, while others were engaged in government business outside parliament.

Titus however laid credence to perception that the Minority insisted on adjournment to get back at President Mahama who claimed that they have been sleeping in the house.

“You government if you want to do business, people who are sleeping you want them to come and do the business for you?” he asked, but quickly issued a disclaimer that what he said had nothing to do with the president’s comment.

Member of Parliament for Bekwai, Joe Osei Wusu insisted on Joy News that the Minority is in no way sabotaging government business in the house.

The Minority were only sticking to constitutional obligation, he maintained.

The leadership of the house is however expected to meet later this week behind close door to discuss the president’s comment about parliamentarians on a political platform.

Meanwhile, the replacement of the 2016 budget document by government is also causing disaffection in parliament.

MP for Kwabre East, Kofi Frimpong says the minority is suspicious that government may be smuggling other issues into the budget without their knowledge.

But Deputy Finance Minister, Cassiel Ato Forson explained that estimates in the budget are not affected. He said the government only corrected mistakes relating to the arrangement of pages in the document presented to parliamentarians.

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