The Minority spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and MP for North Tongu has declared Thursday, 17th June 2021 as a sad day for accountability and good governance due to Finance Ministers’ failure to answer his question on the cost of President Akufo-Addo’s recent controversial official travels to France, Belgium, and South Africa.
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa said, it’s been more than two weeks and “ The Minority cannot fathom, this is the expenditure that has happened already, you’ve paid for the landing rights, the Charter, the private jet, the hotel bill and paid for all incidentals, including all per diems for those travelled commercial”.
At a news conference in Parliament, “to update the good of this country who are following this matter kindly, should be told that the development today is not the making of we The Minority but it is the request of the minister of finance, Ken Ofori Atta who is asking the Parliament to give him more time, that is why the table office de-listed the question”.
Mr. Okudzeto however said they, in the minority, believed that the Minister is responsible for Finance has had ample notice- more than two weeks to prepare for the question.
The vociferous NDC MP pointed out that, “The Finance Minister cannot also say that he is not available today. As you do know, he was in Parliament to answer other questions, so it cannot clash with his schedules or he been incapacitated. He could have also responded to this”.
He doubts the exact date his question will be rescheduled but “what we know for certain, is that our resolve to pursue this matter is unwavering, we will continue with all determinations in the interest of accountability, in the interest of good governance, in the interest of protecting the public purse and protecting scares national resources in this difficult time of hostility, in the midst of pandemic which has had depilating consequences on the economy and the general wellbeing of Ghanaians”.
He described the situation as “a sad day for accountability and for good governance, the finance minister should have availed himself, if the defence minister within the same period could respond even the day earlier, they have an extra day”.
But MP for Nsawam Adoagyiri and the Majority Chief Whip Frank Annoh-Dompreh in response called on The Minority side to exercise patience on matters of national interest and referred to Ablakwa”s press conference as needless.
He explained that, at the Business Committee meeting on Thursday which he chaired on behalf of the Majority Leader, The Finance Minister informed them that his answers were not ready and the same was communicated he, Ablakwa through The Minority Leader.
According to him, “to accept or not to accept a question is the prerogative of the speaker and the Member in case Hon Ablakwa ought to have followed it up from the speaker’s office, not to be addressing the media as he did”.
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has filed an urgent question which read, “To ask the Minister for Finance how much the President’s recent official travels to France, Belgium, and South Africa in May this year cost the Ghanaian taxpayer.”
The question was advertised on the order paper for the previous day Wednesday, June 16, 2021, to be taken on the next sitting day on Thursday. However, a printed copy of the order paper for Thursday’s sitting does not contain the said urgent question.
It is not clear why all the other questions which were advertised earlier have all been scheduled for the day except this particular question which borders on the Presidential travels.
It must also be noted that two urgent questions were advertised for the Finance Minister to provide answers to, but only one question was scheduled to be addressed by him on the Floor of the House and he answered it accordingly.
Story by Edzorna Francis Mensah