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Parliament divided on oversight powers over NCA

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Majority and Minority on Tuesday wrestled over whether or not the National Communication Authority was beyond the oversight powers of Parliament.

Whereas the Minority holds the position that Parliament has oversight powers over the Authority, the Majority feels the NCA should be scrutinized by other bodies or means.

The matter came to the floor of the House during debate on the budget allocations for the 2011 financial year for the Communication Ministry.

Meanwhile, the report of the Select Committee on Communication did not capture budgetary allocation for the NCA.

Debate on the budget for the Communications Ministry was almost over when Dr Osei Akoto, New Patriotic Party Member for Old Tafo, raised the issue on the omission of NCA in the report.

In response, the Minister of Communications, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, said the NCA yearly budget had other means of checking the Authority apart from Parliamentary scrutiny citing the Public Account Committee as one of them.

He said over the years that was what was done even during the NPP regime.

Mr Joe Ghartey, Member for Esikadu/Ketan, said the issue raised a lot of constitutional questions, adding that if the position of the Minister stood, then the oversight powers of Parliament was undermined.

Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Minority Leader, said Standing Order 184 (2) (b) clearly stated that Parliament had the power to examine the income and expenditure of public corporations and state enterprises or other bodies and organizations established by an act of Parliament.

He said even if it had been done in the past it did not mean it should be repeated especially giving that it was the wrong thing.

Mr Seth Terkpeh, a Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning said for an organization’s budget to be captured in the fiscal year budget or not, it depended upon the level of autonomy Government had granted that body.

He noted that organizations could be given partial or total autonomy, however, the accounting system of such organizations, were subject to scrutiny by the Finance Ministry.

The Speaker of Parliament, Justice Joyce Bamford Addo, it was important the two sides met to further discuss the matter in order to reach a consensus.

Meanwhile, the House had granted budgetary allocations for four ministries, which were the Ministry of Communications, an amount of GH¢29,547,558.00; Ministry of Education, GH¢1,983,217,447.00; Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, GH¢558,625,890 and the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture, GH¢18,173,336.00.

Source: GNA

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