First Deputy Speaker Dismisses Minority’s Motion To Probe COVID-19 Expenditure

The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu on Tuesday dismissed a private motion by the Minority for the House to constitute a bi-partisan committee to probe COVID-19 expenditures since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020.

According to Mr Osei-Owusu the motion filed by the Minority did not satisfy the requirement under Standing Order 191 and that everything related to the motion fell under the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which was the right committee to deal with it.

Giving his ruling on the objections raised by the Majority with regards to processes through which the motion was presented, Mr Osei-Owusu stated that, “The matters that were called upon to set a committee to investigate did not come under any of the select or standing committees. In my view, falls squarely in the PAC, and indeed, all the committees of the House including the PAC are bi-partisan and PAC by nature is designed to be chaired by the Minority, so, in all, its folds and questions related to the PAC.

“The PAC, if it is minded to investigate anything related to COVID-19 expenditure it fully seized with the authority and the power to investigate that particularly, because, all the accounting for it has been provided for in the budget which has presented before the House and it is before the committee”.

Mr Osei-Owusu subsequently, dismissed the motion saying that, the motion brought to the House ought not to have been admitted and it is not properly before the House.

“My view is that this motion ought not to have been admitted and it is not properly laid before the House,” he added.

Three members of the Minority side filed a motion for the House to constitute a bi-partisan parliamentary committee chaired by a Minority member to enquire into the expenditures made by Ghana Government in relation to COVID-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020.

Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, Ranking Member on the Finance Committee who moved the motion indicated the motion has become necessary because in 2020 the government called upon Parliament to approve for the purposes of COVID-19 expenditure an amount of GH₵1.2 billion what they termed as Corona Virus Alleviation Programme.

Mr Forson said, however, in the mid-year review that was presented to the House the government rather spent GH₵8.122 billion which clearly means that out of the GH₵1.2 billion that was approved by the House the government went ahead to spend additional GH₵7 billion on COVID-19 expenditures.

He explained that with the GH₵1.2 billion that was approved, the government needed to come back to the House to give the expenditure breakdown but have failed to do that.

Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, Minority Chief Whip who seconded the motion claimed that in mid-year budget of 2021, the total monies received for COVID-19 was GH₵19.3 billion but there was no explanation as to how these monies were expended.

He said even though the government had spent close to GH₵2 billion in managing COVID-19, yet, there were no details of how the monies were spent, saying, they could only get the issues settled when there is a committee investigate the COVID-19 expenditures.

Deputy Majority Leader, Mr Alexander Afenyo-Markin in his contribution, raised objection to the motion which he said lacked merit.

He contended that the invitation by the Minority side for the House to investigate COVID-19 expenditures would amount to the usurpation of the powers of the PAC.

He, therefore, asked the First Deputy Speaker to throw out the motion, which was subsequently dismissed.