July 25, 2024
P.O.Box 613ER Gombilla House, Lamashegu Market, Tamale, Northern Region

Fireworks in Parliament as Minority blocks L.I to restrict import of strategic products for the third time

There were near fisticuffs in Parliament on Friday when for the third time, the Minority prevented the government from laying a Legislative Instrument (L.I) seeking to prevent the importation of selected products including rice and sugar if the Minister for Trade does not approve it.

On two occasions, the Minority scuttled plans to lay the regulation which they say they are strongly opposed to because it gives the Minister for Trade unbridled power.

Speaking on the floor of Parliament, the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu pleaded with the Minority side to allow the laying of the L.I.

“I want to plead with my colleagues to allow the Minister for Trade and Industry to present the paper on behalf of his Ministry to us,” he pleaded.

But the Minority side of the house did not listen to his appeal.

They deployed a number of strategies including raising the issue of quorum, citing Order 48 to block the laying of the regulation.

The Builsa North MP, James Agalga, suggested that the sitting be postponed for further consultations.

“Mr Speaker, looking at the numbers in the house, we do not have a quorum to transact business, given the fact that there are serious disagreements over aspects of the L.I and coupled with the fact that we don’t have a quorum, I believe it is appropriate to bring proceedings to a close,” he said.

Also, the Deputy Minority Whip, Ahmed Ibrahim argued their side is opposed to the laying of the regulation. He insisted that the L.I will go against the World Trade Organisation conventions.

He added that laying the L.I would violate Speaker Alban Bagbin’s directive to have the house leadership consult, so he could be briefed on the matter since no consultation had been done.

“Mr Speaker, it will be a very great disservice if the Rt. Hon. Speaker comes on Monday to be told that the indication that he gave in his absence was turned upside down by you [Deputy Speaker].

But the Trade Minister, K.T Hammond was outraged over Mr Ibrahim’s comment, describing it as “extremely appalling” for Mr Ibrahim to threaten a competent Deputy Speaker.

“I find it atrocious, it is in bad taste, who is he appealing to?” he questioned.

According to him, the Speaker has no control as to whether an L.I is laid in Parliament or not per the country’s Constitution.

“All this threat that the Speaker has the utmost trust in you…Mr Speaker, the laying, you have no control over it, the Speaker has no control over it, with all due respect.”

According to K.T Hammond, it is revolting for the Minority to suggest that their side represents the “good people of Ghana.”

“You think we are here to represent the bad people of whatever country? What the hell are you talking about?” he said angrily.

The Trade Minister said that he is a British-trained barrister, adding that he is aware of the WTO rules which had been taken into account before the drafting of the L.I.

The Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Armah Buah, in response, was also furious about the behavior of the Trade and Industry Minister.

According to him, it is wrong for Mr Hammond to suggest that Members of Parliament have no input in the L.I.

“It is important we state that we have serious concerns about this regulation. One of them is that the Minister should be given the power to decide that tomorrow morning, your license is canceled. We should give him that power? We will not accept this.”

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