Speaker dismisses objection to motion on censure of Finance Minister 

Alban Bagbin

Mr Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, the Speaker of Parliament on Thursday dismissed an objection to the filing of a notice of Motion on a vote of censure on Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance.

The Speaker said he had rightly admitted the Motion and that it had followed precedence of the House.

Mr Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin, Deputy Majority Leader, raised an objecton to the motion being in the Order Paper of the House, which was sponsored by Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, and 128 other Members of Parliament (MPs).

Mr Afenyo-Markin in his submission argued that a Motion should not be accompanied by allegations and that if the House wants to rely on those allegations, there must be factual basis.

He said unlike other motions under Standing Orders 70, 78, 79 and 80, in this case, there was a respondent, who the Constitution says must be given the opportunity to be heard.

The Speaker in his ruling indicated that the issue raised by the Deputy Majority Leader underscored the urgent need for Parliament to put in place a programme for further education of members on the practice and procedures of the House.

“We need to sit together, dialogue and exchange views on the Constitution and the Standing Orders of the House. We also have beyond the Standing Orders, the rulings of Speakers and we have literature on law and customer of Parliament,” he said.

“And for us to be able to play our roles properly, we need to have continuous education on these matters. What you raised is a very serious matter to guide the House as to how to couch motions.”

The Speaker said when he received the Motion as drafted and submitted to him, he took pains to go through not only the Constitution but the detailed provisions of the Standing Orders.

“And I had to deeply consider some of these issues that you have raised and came to the conclusion that the motion was properly drafted,” Speaker Bagbin said.

“I also took the next step to sit with the leaders, both the Majority and the Minority leaders on this matter. We discussed it before even I admitted it and then submitted to the Clerk’s office.”

He noted that when one reads the Constitution properly, and then the Standing Orders of the House, one would see that no error had been made.

He said the publication of the notice in the Order Paper was a notice to the world; adding that it was also a notice to the Minister concerned.

He said when a motion was filed, it was also transmitted to the concerned Minister.

He said the concerned Minister needed to have sufficient information with regard to the allegations that had been made against him, so that he could prepare adequately, and during the debate he would come and put up his defence.

He said in the law, they talked about the grounds for motions for censure; adding that the concerned minister needs to be told the grounds for that motion.

“I think exactly that is what has been done by the sponsors of the motion. And so, I rightfully admitted it,” he said.

Speaker Bagbin said the notice had been given for seven sitting days of Parliament.

“Then after that 14-days from the receipt of the motion by the Speaker…and so that is what we are going by. The Minister definitely, since it is a notice to the public would have sufficient basis to prepare his defence and the Minister would be given the opportunity to submit his defence during the debate.”

He said at the end of the day, the law was clear as to the support that such a motion should get to constitute a censure; stating that a two-thirds majority vote of MPs was needed to censure a minister.

Prior to the Speaker’s ruling Mr Muntaka, who urged the Speaker to dismiss Mr Afenyo-Markin’s objection, said Orders 78, 79 and 80 of the House make provisions for all notices carried in the Oder Paper and that nowhere did it mention that it was only the heading of motions that were to be published.

Mr Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader, in his submission, said Mr Afenyo-Markin must even be graciously thanking the Speaker for admitting the Motion with haste in the public national interest.

Source: GNA

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