The failure of the Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta to appear before Parliament to answer questions relating to the Covid expenses can be a sign of arrogance on the part of the Minister, private legal practitioner, Mr Kwame Jantuah has said.
In the view of Mr Jantuah, the Finance Minister, even if he has no answers to the questions, should have appeared before the House to inform them that although they inquired, he has no answers at the moment therefore, he should be given additional time to gather the response.
Speaking on the New Day show on TV3 with Johnnie Hughes, Friday June 17, Mr Jantuah said “I would have thought that even if the Finance Minister wasn’t ready to answer these questions, I felt it would be answered next week when he is giving the mid year budget statement and say to Parliament that yes, you have put these questions to me, however because of a,b,c,d, z reasons why at this material moment I cannot answer but I promise you, come next week all these questions would be answered.
“That disrespect and the fact that it hasn’t happened once or twice, it has happened several times makes it look as if there is a border of arrogance in there, which is wrong.”
On Thursday June 16, the Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin said that the House would not entertain any business from the Finance Ministry until Mr Ofori-Atta appears before the House to render an account on how the Covid-19 funds were utilized.
Mr Bagbin said that a lot of questions have been asked about how the government spent the funds, questions he said require answers from the Finance Minister.
But, he said Mr Ofori-Atta has not been able to show up in Parliament to give a breakdown of the utilization of the funds.
“Yes, last week, for good reasons, [his appearance in parliament] wasn’t possible and usually the Business Committee is given the opportunity to do the allotting. So the Minister for Finance was allotted today to come and answer a number of questions. The Minister is not available today, we are told.
“The Minister spoke to me why he is not available today but before today, I had given a directive and that directive was to the effect that the Minister should appear before this House to account for monies that we approved for him to use to lead the country as a ministry for us to see how we respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“A lot of questions have been raised in respect of that so he should come to account to the good people of how that state resources have been applied by his Ministry to the benefit of the people. I did indicate that until that is done, the motion that requested the approval of this house, for more monies to be given him, that is his ministry, for the purpose of Covid-19 be on the hold until he answers the questions, I think that still holds.
“I will go further to say that until the answer is provided, until he goes through the accountability process, we will not take that motion. With respect to the questions, well, today he has another request before us, that will also be affected, until he comes to respond to the questions and to submit the statement, given explanation, as to how that money has been applied, we will not entertain any business from that ministry, mark my words,” Mr Bagbin said.
North Tongu Member of Parliament Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa also said in a tweet that Mr Ofori-Atta has been running away from accountability.
This comes after the planned address in Parliament by the Finance Minister on issues including the Covid expenditures was postponed on Thursday June 16.
Mr Ablakwa said “Anytime Ken Ofori-Atta must account to the Ghanaian people through Parliament, he makes pathetic excuses & runs away.
“If it was an opportunity to engage in unconstitutional withdrawals of taxpayer funds, he would have proceeded with unholy alacrity. He can run but he can’t hide.”
Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu while addressing the press in Parliament on Tuesday May 31 said the 1992 Constitution was premised on probity and accountability.
To that end, he said, the President must explain how the funds were utilized if he has respect for the Constitution.
“If president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has any respect for the tenets and values of accountability and transparency, then he should to authorize a pubic probe or inquiry into how the over ¢19bn Covid monies were disbursed.”
“We are further scandalized and we are calling on president Nana Akufo-Addo and reminding him that the 1992 Constitution is premised on probity and accountability and that if he has nay respect for the values and integrity let him probe Covid spending,” he added.
By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana