Speaker Saves Minister

Dr Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah
The Health Minister, Dr Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah was on Thursday saved by the Speaker of Parliament Edward Doe Adjaho after giving contradicting figures on how much of the National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL), which is a component of VAT has been released to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) for its operations in the 2014 fiscal year.

The Minister, who was responding to urgent questions in parliament yesterday, said the government has released a total of GH¢882.6million to the NHIA, out of which GH¢540 million has been paid to the various health institutions as claims covering January-April, this year.

Dr Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah, in responding to another question by the main questioner, New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Offinso North, Collins Ntim, said as of November 10, this year a total of GH¢67.2million had been collected in respect of 2014 for the National Health Insurance Fund but the figure was quickly challenged by the Deputy Minority Leader, Dominic Nitiwul who said the Health Minister must be churning out wrong the figures if the trend is carefully analyzed.

According to the Deputy Minority Leader, the Minister cannot tell the House that from January to April, this year an amount of GH¢540 million was paid to health institutions as proceeds from the NHIL and that from May to November, a meager GH¢67 million had been collected.

‘Mr Speaker, how can the Minister tell the House that for four months, an amount of GH¢540 million accrued from the NHIA but tell the house again that within six month later only GH¢67 million had accrued or been collected,’ he said, stressing that the figures given by the minister were irreconcilable.

The Minister, who clearly appeared confused over the issue, had to be ‘assisted’ with further information on the matter from either the leadership of the Majority or the Chief Executive Officer of NHIA, Sylvester Mensah.

The minister later pleaded with the Members of Parliament to be given some time to reconcile all figures and information and come back to give the appropriate figures to them.

The Minister however said the NHIA is employing four strategies to reduce delays in the payment which include setting up of claim processing centres, introduction of e-claims, electronic transfer of claims and the capitation system.

The Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho upheld the minister’s appeal and asked the Minority Members of Parliament to hold their ‘fire’ for the minister to come back to the House with ‘reconcilable’ figures.

The NPP MP for Offinso North, who asked the question, told DAILY GUIDE that he was not satisfied with the answers given by the minister and will ensure that the right answer is provided to the people of Ghana.

When NPP MP, Freda Prempeh got up to ask the Minister about the status of Yamfo Health Centre in her constituency which needs to be upgraded into a poly-clinic, National Democratic Congress (NDC) MPs on the Majority side subjected her to constant ridicule due to the attire she was wearing which the NDC MPs said was full of NDC colours.

The ridicule went on anytime the NPP MP for Tano North got up to ask supplementary question till the speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho shouted the NDC MPs down.

Hon Adjaho said that Parliament was a place for serious business and that they were at liberty to go outside to make those ‘noises.’

By Thomas Fosu Jnr

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