Crack The Whip -Mills Told
PRESIDENT JOHN Atta Mills' business is in total disarray and moving at a snail's pace in Parliament, as a number of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MPS) and ministers of state desert the House.
Approval of budgets for Ministries, Departments and Agencies has virtually come to a standstill because some ministers who are supposed to assist Parliament to effectively scrutinize the budget allocations mind their own business elsewhere and send their deputies to the House.
This behaviour has infuriated the MP for Sekondi, Papa Owusu-Ankomah who has urged President Mills to crack the whip.
The absence of ministers in Parliament is said to be a slap in the face of President Mills' recent directive that no minister should travel until the budget was approved.
'It is important that the President puts his eye on the ball,' the former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice admonished, pointing out that during President Kufuor's administration, ministers were physically present in the House to defend their budgets for approval and not deputy ministers.
According to the former Majority Leader and Minister of Education, Science and Sports, there were times that he was called to cut short his trips outside the country to come and defend budget statements of government.
Consideration of the budget, he pointed out, was the most important business of government and ministers had no excuse but to participate in the process.
Last Friday, First Deputy Speaker Edward Doe Adjaho had to adjourn the House abruptly after pouring out his frustrations over the absence of Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor and his two deputies who were supposed to assist parliament to clarify discrepancies in budget allocations for the Ministry of Local Development and Rural Development.
'What do you want me to do when the ministers are not here to assist us?' Doe Adjaho, who is also the NDC MP for Ave/Avenor, yelled in despair and adjourned the House until yesterday.
What was equally baffling, according to the Minority in Parliament, was the apparent lack of interest by the Majority NDC to move the business of their own government forward.
Yesterday, Speaker Justice Joyce Bamford-Addo had to defer a vote for the approval of the budget for the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development for about an hour because there was no quorum in the House.
As at 11:40am, only 51 out 116 NDC MPs were present to take the crucial vote, compelling Papa Owusu-Ankomah to reiterate his call on the majority to be serious with government business.
'I have complained privately to some members from the majority side about the way they are conducting government business in the House,' the Sekondi MP disclosed, indicating he had to come public because things were not changing.
NDC MP for Juaboso, Sampson Ahi, agreed with Papa Owusu-Ankomah on the lackadaisical attitude of some of his colleagues towards government business.
He however disagreed with the admonition that President should crack the whip on MPs, arguing that MPs were part of the legislature, which was an independent body, and not under the executive that the president controlled.
What must be done, according to him, was for the NDC leadership in Parliament to advise members to be present at all times for government business to move as fast and smoothly as possible.
By Awudu Mahama