Friday, May 24, 2024

Ghana: Parliament Summons Finance Minister Over Debt Restructuring

Parliament on Friday summoned the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, to present to it details of the government’s debt restructuring programme for consideration.

The directive by the Speaker of the House, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, followed a motion filed and moved by Minority Leader and MP for Ajumako/Enyan/Esiam, Dr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, on Thursday, August 3, 2023.

Per the directive of the Speaker, Mr Ofori-Atta is to make the presentation to the Finance Committee of the House for a report on same to plenary when the House reconvenes from recess in October.

Moving the motion on the floor of the House, Dr Cassiel Forson argued that the Finance Minister ought to seek Parliament’s approval before restructuring debts because the House approved of those debts.

He anchored his argument on the decision by the government to write-off its indebtedness to the Bank of Ghana insisting that doing so did not lie in the mouth of the minister and the government by extension.

“If the Minister for any reason has decided to write off the debt that government owes to the central bank, it is only right for the Minister responsible for Finance to bring the document before us and to inform us that we are going to write off a certain debt. The Minister cannot unilaterally write off debt owed to the central bank. It is for that reason that I request the Minister of Finance to present to us the details of government’s debt restructuring programme,” he said.

“Mr Speaker, it is not right for the Minister to take this major single policy initiative without parliamentary approval. Mr Speaker, I urge you to write to the minister responsible for finance to direct him to present the entire debt restructuring programme,” he prayed the Speaker.

Supporting the motion, the Majority Chief Whip and MP for Nsawam/Adoagyiri, Frank Annoh Dompreh, said the demand was fair.

He, however, posited that the House could have used already available means like the Committee to invite the minister without necessarily coming under a motion.

“When the Minority Leader was moving the motion, I turned to look at order 155. Mr Speaker, we have a Finance Committee of Parliament clothed with legal powers so for me, this matter should not have taken members to move a private member motion,” he said.

When the motion was put to a voice vote, the Speaker ruled that those in favour of the motion were in the majority.

“The motion is accordingly adopted. Honourable members, what we’ve just done is to call upon the Minister to present the government debt restructuring programme for consideration by the House,” the Speaker said.