MPs Abandon Budget Debate For World Cup
Some Members of Parliament (MPs), mainly from the majority side, have virtually abandoned the legislative house and government business, jetting to Qatar to feast their eyes on the on-going FIFA World Cup matches, in spite of the country’s raging economic crisis.
What is even more worrying is the timing of their absenteeism, when the House is currently debating2023 Budget.
So far, The Anchor has spotted on live television three MPs from the Majority side, two who also double as ministers, sitting in the stadium, watching especially Ghana’s Black Stars matches.
There are claims some chief executive officers (CEOs) and appointees of government are also cooling off over there in Qatar.
They are Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Minister of Energy and MP for Manhyia South constituency in the Ashanti Region;Mrs. Ursula Gifty Owusu-Ekuful,Minister of Communications and Digitalization and MP for the Ablekuma West constituency, and Lawyer Patrick Yaw Boamah,MP for Okaikwei Central Constituency in Greater Accra Region.
The Anchor cannot independently tell if they asked for permission from the Rt.-HonSpeaker of Parliament, Alban Kingsford Bagbin, before departing for the Middle East country.
Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful has been seen in a photograph with a former Dutch international, Patrick Kluivert.
“With Patrick Kluivert; for those old enough to remember this legendary footballer from the Netherlands!! Loving the atmosphere in Qatar!!” She said, with a picture, laughing with the football legend on her official Facebook page.
The Manhyia South MP, on the other hand, was earlier at Ghana’s second Group H match with South Korea with his colleague sitting together. A photo of the two in their Ghana colours trended on social media for a while.
He later granted an interview to Metro Television’s Michael Kofi Oduro on Tuesday, just a day after Ghana defeated South Korea in an epic encounter.
This is happening at a time the government is expecting every MP to be in the august house to discuss the 2023 budget statement presented by the embattled finance minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, exactly a week ago.
The presentation is in accordance with Article 179 of the 1992 Constitution and section 21 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921).
Reports say that, on Monday November 29, the majority side in Parliament failed to show up in their numbers for the commencement of the 2023 budget debate, after the lawmakers travelled to the Volta Region and lodged in one of the most expensive hotels in the region, Volta Serene, at Ho for a post-budget workshop over the weekend.
At the time the Speaker gave the guidelines for the commencement of the debate, only 21 MPs were seated on the Majority side of the House.
It happened after some so-called ‘rebel’ MPs on the Majority side threatened a boycott of the budget reading, following their call for the removal of the finance minister, which was later rescinded after the party and government reached a compromise.
Meanwhile, the ranking member on the Finance Committee, Cassiel Ato Forson, has reacted angrily to the absence of these MPs and ministers, especially those cruising in Qatar.
According to him, Members of Parliament must show seriousness in resolving the current economic crisis.
The MP for the Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam constituency in a Twitter post, shared the picture of the Communications Minister firing; “at a time of serious economic crisis, Cabinet Ministers and MPs should not abandon the important business of budget consideration to go and watch football in Qatar! The optics are bad! We need to show we are serious about resolving the crisis!”
A former colleague of the MPs, Ras Mubarak, has also waded into the matter expressing disgust about the action of the Minister and MP; without mincing words asking her do a sole search if what she is indulging is right.
The ex-MP for Kumbungu constituency, without giving names, claimed some Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of state enterprises and appointees have all abandoned their jobs to go and have fun in Qatar at the expense of the taxpayer.
He wondered what superior authority granted the minister permission to travel at this time when there are so much to be done.
“Ask yourself in good conscience, if what you are doing is right in the eyes of God and man. All of you have paraded yourselves to Qatar, including CEOs of agencies, while abandoning your Ministerial & Parliamentary roles. Yesterday there were only 25 or so NPP MPs in parliament for the budget debate. How could u brazenly disrespect Ghanaians like this? There’s no discipline in your government. Who granted you leave to be out of the country at this time? Have fun on tax payers’ time. Keep taking pictures and introducing yourself to foreigners as a Minister from Ghana. You are dishonoring the Ministerial code u swore to abide by. This kind of conduct is disgraceful. Smh,” he wrote under Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful’s post.