23.06.2004 General News

Speaker cautions Committee Chairmen

23.06.2004 LISTEN

Accra, June 23, GNA - Parliament on Wednesday adjourned debate on the report of the Committee on Mines and Energy on the treaty of the West Africa Gas Pipeline (WAGP) Project for lack of quorum.

This was after Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, the Minority Chief Whip, after leading the debate raised the issue of lack of quorum for the House to take a decision on the treaty.

The House, therefore, adjourned without arriving at a decision and the Speaker urged the Chief Whips on both sides to ensure that their members were present at all times for the House to conduct its business smoothly.

The Speaker, Mr Peter Ala Adjetey, ruled that various Committee Chairmen must ask permission from the Chief Whips before holding meetings whilst the House was sitting.

The Speaker's ruling followed suspension of business of the House to allow members outside the chamber to return for a decision to be taken on whether to adopt the report of the Committee.

The treaty was meant to seek ratification of the House to enable Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria to adopt a harmonised and uniform legislation for the effective implementation of the WAGP Project.

Ghana is a major beneficiary of WAGP and holds 16.3 per cent interest. The Project involves the development and operation of a natural Gas Pipeline system to transport gas from Nigeria through Benin and Togo to Ghana.

The Committee urged the Minister of Finance and Minister of Energy to speed up the negotiation process to enable Ghana to pay her equity interest of between 80 million dollars and 90 million dollars before July 30, 2004, which is the deadline for the payment.

Mr Adjaho raised issues in the treaty and its supporting document, known as the International Project Agreement (IPA), saying that the ratification of the treaty would not be in the national interest if those issues were not adequately addressed.

He stated that the time given for Committee members to consider the 265-page document was too short to allow them to take a well-informed decision, adding that there were several clauses in the IPA and the treaty, which would in the long run stifle national interest.

Mr Seidu Adamu, NDC-Bibiani, said the provision in the treaty, which prevented domestic laws of participating states from being applied to the WAGP project, was not in the interest of the country.

He noted that this country had an Energy policy and an Energy Commission Act, which puts the determination for energy prices in the purview of the Energy Commission, but the treaty sought to create a situation where the price of energy generated from the WAGP would be determined by West Africa Gas Pipeline Authority, which could be counter productive to Ghanaians.

Mr Kwame Osei-Prempeh, NPP-Nsuta-Kwamang, noted that though the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) was meant for economic integration for the prosperity of the people of the Sub-Region, co-operation had mainly been on the political front, saying that the WAGP project would mark the beginning of real economic integration within ECOWAS.

Dr Kwame Ampofo, NDC-South Dayi, said the project was laudable and that if the issues raised by Mr Adjaho were well addressed, the project should open the floodgates for other projects such as the Shipping and Airline projects to also gain grounds.

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