ECG threatened to cut power supply to Parliament; there is no money – Muntaka

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Member of Parliament for Asawase, Alhaji Mubarak Muntaka has said Parliament is broke to the extent that the House is unable to change its photocopiers although the time has come for that to be done.

He accused the Ministry of Finance of deliberately denying Parliament funds as part of a grand agenda to weaken the legislature.

Mr Muntaka’s comments come at a time the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin has raised concerns over failure of the Finance Ministry to released funds to Parliament.

Mr Bagbin said on Thursday May 26 that Parliament will be running on some arrears of last year. He described the situation as not easy.

He said on the floor of the House that “What many of you don’t know is that even as at this time we don’t have any releases from the Ministry of Finance for us to run Parliament.

“So we will be running Parliament on some arrears of last year, it is not easy. Sometimes we see your request for me to approve for you to do some things I declined. It is not because I love declining your request, it is because we don’t have the wherewithal fund those operations.

“I think the Ministry of Finance should not treat Parliament like this a Ministry or MDA. I will emphasize this again, this is an arm of government, we are not part of the MMDAS. We have even been written to reduce our budget in some areas by 50 per cent. If they want Parliament to run aground, they should let us know.

“The Speaker is not ready and prepared to be blamed for the inability to get Parliament going on just because we are not getting the necessary funding.”

Speaking on this matter in interview with TV3’s Evelyne Tengmaa on Friday May 27, Mr Muntaka who is the Minority Chief Whip, said “Obviously, the major challenge is the Ministry of Finance continue to treat Parliament as a department or agency of the state. Unfortunately, Parliament is not an agency, so we need to try and distinguish that.

“For example, they will write a letter to all MMDAs that they should cut their budget and they will serve Parliament the same. We think that is wrong. Once Parliament approved this budget if you have challenge you go through the same route. In the case of the Judiciary and Parliament for variation you will have to come back to Parliament to do that, you don’t have the power to just sit and say that.

“That is why they have to come to update the House that the budget that we have approved, so far, they are having additional funding or we are having challenges raising funds and therefore we want to come up with this variation.

“They don’t want to do that so they just sit and they arrogate to themselves powers that they do not have. I don’t blame them, it has between happening, Parliament has made itself so weak and when they do that we do the usual NDC, NPP game, if it is NPP in power you try to cover up for the Minister, if it is the NDC you try to cover up, so it moves to a point where releases are not coming.

“Not only in Ghana, even in America their preference is that they should have a Congress that is weak so that they can get to do whatever they want to do. The starting point of getting parliament weak is to stifle Parliament of funds. It is just like you have vehicle and there is no fuel in it, that vehicle cannot travel.

“You will see that when they do not release money to Parliament, when committees want to go to site, let us say Transport Committee wants to go to the Takoradi Harbour, they want to see what is happening at the Harbour, Parliament will say no, there is no money so you cannot go. If the Health Committee wants health insurance facilities across the country, they will write, Speaker says we don’t have funds so we have to wait. If you want to do capacity building or anything, once there is no money you get grounded, Parliament itself gets grounded.”

He added “Before we re-opened, I heard ECG threatening to come and cut the power here. If they cut, the generator will come on but for how long will the generator run? The generator can’t run for ever, so we have to pay our utilities. So far, we have been struggling to go to Parliament where you will not see, even our photocopiers, given the number of copies that they run you will have to say every 8 years they will have to be changed, it is time to change since last year, [but] the lack of funds is making it impossible. That is the extent to which stifling funds in Parliament is affecting the operations of Parliament.

“I must also admit that sometimes, we ourselves must also try to prioritize our expenditures. For example, if Finance Ministry is doing what they are doing and then they release, let us assume our quarterly budget, let us say 50 million, they release 20million, if we don’t itemize the things , if we don’t get them done the whole system will be grounded.”

By Laud Nartey||Ghana

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