Suspension: Parliament fails to decide on Ken Agyapong’s fate

Parliament today (Saturday) failed to consider and adopt the report of the Privileges Committee which has implicated the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Assin Central, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, for contempt.

The report was accordingly deferred for the next meeting of the House which is in October.

The Privileges Committee chaired by the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Joseph Osei Owusu, has recommended to the plenary to reprimand or suspend Hon. Kennedy Ohene Agyapong for the rest of “this Session”.

The Committee arrived at this decision after finding Mr. Agyapong to have been in contempt of Parliament for the remarks he made that “Parliament is cheap” and “Parliament is useless”.

Prior to arriving at this final decision, the Committee was split into two as to which sanction to recommend to the plenary for consideration.

The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu explained that the matter was deferred because Parliament wanted to go on recess with no bitterness in the heart of any member and rather depart for their break in a congenial atmosphere.

In another development, the government’s proposal to amend the controversial US $510million Ameri deal was also deferred by the House after strong protest by the Minority MPs.

The decision for the deferrement, according to the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu is to allow for further consultations on the matter.

 

I’m sorry – Kennedy Agyapong to Parliament

Member of Parliament for Assin Central, Hon. Kennedy Agyapong has rendered an apology to the Parliament of Ghana for describing it as ‘cheap’ without which it wouldn’t have appointed Hon. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu as its leader.

Appearing before the Privileges Committee of Parliament that is inquiring into his outburst of describing the House as ‘”cheap” and “useless”, the Assin Central lawmaker admits using the “word cheap” to describe the legislature.

However, he said he used the word “cheap” in a context when the Vice-Chairman of the NPP, Ashanti Region, Mr. Senkyere said on Hot FM that if he (Kennedy Agyapong) cannot stand Ana’s 12 video, he should go to Togo.

Further to that, why should he (Kennedy Agyapong) be regarded as an MP.

Nevertheless, he said he was very sorry for using the word “cheap” to describe Parliament.

He rendered the apology when the MP for Ododiodoo, Nii Lantey Vanderpuye asked him whether he still would have used the word “cheap” if given another chance.

He told the Committee that he got furious when nobody saw anything wrong with what Mr. Senkyere said about him.

He further told the Joseph Osei Owusu-led committee that he never used the word “useless” to describe Parliament in all his utterances.

“I never used the word “useless”. You can kill me today and I will never admit saying that word”, he noted.

Contempt against Ken Agyapong: Parliament to reconstitute Privileges C’tee

Parliament is to reconstitute the Privileges Committee to hear the contempt case against the Member of Parliament for Assin Central, Ken Agyapong after three members recused themselves from the committee.

At a sitting on Tuesday, July 3, 2018, Counsels for the Assin Central lawmaker, Hon. Alexander Afenyo-Markin and Hon. K. T. Hammond drew the Committee’s attention to a letter signed by three Members of the Committee who had willingly expressed their intent to disqualify themselves from the ongoing investigations involving Hon. Kennedy Agyapong over his alleged utterances against the legislature.

The three, Hon. Cynthia Morrison, MP for Agona West, Hon. Naana Eyiah, MP for Gomoa Central and Hon. Samuel Nsowa-Djan, MP for Upper Denkyira West, had argued based on Order 164(4) of the Standing Orders of Parliament that the “Respondent Contemnor is the Caucus Chairman for Central Region and all of us have a close relationship with. We are unable therefore to discharge our duties without bias”.

Order 164(4) of the Standing Orders of Parliament states that “A Member of the Committee may disqualify himself from participating in any investigations of the conduct of a Member, officer or employee of the House upon a declaration in writing that he cannot render an impartial and unbiased decision in the case which he seeks to disqualify himself. If the Committee approves and accepts such disqualification, the Chairman shall so notify the Speaker who shall request the Leader of the same political party as the disqualifying Member to designate a Member from his party to act as a Member of the Committee in any proceedings relating to such investigation”.

The Chairman of the Privileges Committee, Hon. Joseph Osei Owusu, after listening to the argument advanced by the Counsels for the Assin Central lawmaker, granted their request and adjourned sittings indefinitely.

Hon. Ken Agyapong is facing contempt charges for allegedly describing Parliament as ‘useless’.

 

Ken Agyapong to appear before Privileges Committee today

The Member of Parliament for Assin Central constituency, Kennedy Agyapong, is expected to appear before Parliament’s Privileges Committee today for allegedly insulting the honourable House.

The maverick Legislator in a radio interview last month, is said to have described Parliament as “useless” for having Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu as its Majority leader.

The uncomplimentary statement moved the Minority Chief whip, Muntaka Mubarak, to file a motion which resulted in Ken Agyapong being referred to the Privileges Committee.

The Privileges Committee at its initial meeting established a prima facie case against Mr Agyapong, hence his appointment with the committee today [Tuesday].

It is expected to cross-examine both Mr. Agyapong and Muntaka Mubarak.

 

Parliament grants $259m tax concession deal to give Anglogold mine a lifeline

Parliament has ratified the Stability and Development Agreements including fiscal concessions entered into between the Republic of Ghana and Anglogold Ashanti Ghana Limited following the adoption of the report of the joint Committee on Finance and Mines & Energy.

A tax concession worth US$259,000,000.00 was also granted to the mining company in the process at a sitting, Thursday, June 21, 2018.

The move, therefore, gives Anglogold Ashanti a lifeline opportunity to redevelop its defunct Obuasi mine.

Per the agreement, Anglogold Ashanti Ghana Limited is expected to make a capital investment of US$880million in the Obuasi mine during the execution of the agreement which will end on December 31, 2018.

According to the report of the joint Committee on Finance and Mines & Energy signed by Dr. Mark Assibey-Yeboah and Emmanuel K. Gyamfi, the redevelopment of the Obuasi mine which has a lifespan of some 22 years will have a positive net contribution to the Ghanaian economy.

For instance, the West African nation is expected to derive a total amount of US$5.3billion from the development of the mine over the 22-year period.  This represents approximately 51% of the total sales revenue.

This includes direct contribution to government revenue (fiscal mechanisms), local content, as well as employment and community investment.

Out of the total contribution to the economy, US$2.2billion represents the direct contribution to government revenue over the life of the mine, representing about 21% of the total revenue pie over the life of the mine.

Out of the total contribution to the economy, local content is expected to generate US$2.4billion. The deal is expected to employ between 2000 and 2500 during the process. An additional 1500 people are expected to be employed during the construction phase.

Moving the motion for the adoption of the report of the joint Committee on the development agreement, the Chairman of the Mines & Energy Committee, Emmanuel Akwasi Gyamfi told the House that after a thorough scrutiny of the agreement and engagement of key stakeholders, the Committee was of the view that Ghana stands to benefit in the long term if the agreement was ratified by the House.

Contributing to the motion, the Ranking Member of the Mines & Energy Committee and NDC MP for Damongo, Adam Mutawakilu, said urged the government not to leave the development of the Obuasi town into the hands of Anglogold Ashanti Ghana alone after the company declared contributing US$2 out of every ounce of gold produced into a tax fund development of the Obuasi town.

On his part, the NDC MP for Yapei/Kusawgu, John Jinapor described the agreement as good news for the country following the benefit that the local community will derive from its implementation.

He therefore called for judicious use of revenue derived from the mining activities to improve on the conditions of the people.

Parliament halts gov’t from diverting DACF cash

Parliament has unanimously resolved to put a stopper on the government from diverting 80% of the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) to finance other priority projects.

This follows the Committee on the Whole’s meeting with the Administrator of the District Assemblies Common Fund, Hon. Irene Naa Torshie-Addo on Tuesday, June 19, 2018.

In March 2018, Parliament approved the formula for the disbursement of the DACF for 2018 pursuant to Article 252 (3) of the Constitution.

A total amount of GH¢1,812,144,435.00 was then appropriated for disbursement over nineteen (19) line items. Significant among them include:

Transfers to other legal entities – Youth Employment Agency (YEA) – 10%, National Youth Authority (NYA) – 5% and National Disaster Management Organisation – 1.5%, all amounting to GH¢299,000,665.00.

Allocation to People with Disability – 3% amounting to GH¢54,364,333.00

National Projects – Education, Sees Capital for newly created District Assemblies and Waste Management – 11.59% amounting to GH¢210,000,000.00 and

Direct Allocations to MMDA – 50% amounting to GH¢905,999,982.09.

But the government in a memo sent to all the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) last month directed that the approved transfer of the DACF should be strictly applied as follows:

School Feeding program – 40% amounting GH¢362,399,992.80

Nation Builders Corps – 20% amounting to GH¢181,199,996.40

Planting for Food and Jobs – 20% amounting to GH¢181,199,996.40

Balance for Assembly’s own projects – 20% amounting to GH¢181,199,996.40

This directive did not go down with the Minority National Democratic Congress Members of Parliament, provoking them to lodge a complaint with the Speaker of Parliament and further pleaded that he summons the Administrator of the DACF to brief the House over the directive of the government.

They argued that the directive of the government violates the formula of the DACF which was approved by Parliament for 2018.

Further to that the directive of the government will deprive the Assemblies of funds to implement their localized development projects which they had already planned for and incorporated in their budgets.

“This financially weakens the Assemblies and in effect, derails the decentralization and local governance process”, noted the deputy Ranking Member of the Committee on Local Government, Hon. Benjamin Komla Kpodo.

Although the Committee on the Whole’s meeting with the Administrator of the DACF was not public, information gathered indicate that the legislature has pulled the breaks on the government not to interfere in the DACF approved by the House.

NDC MP for Banda, Hon. Ibrahim Ahmed, told journalists moment after the meeting that “both Majority and Minority sides of the House have resolved that government abides by the formula approved by Parliament for the disbursement of the District Assemblies Common Fund”.

Minority boycotts registration of MPs for Nat’l ID Cards

The Minority Member of Parliament have announced a total boycott of registration of MPs for National ID cards today, Monday June 11, 2018.

A statement signed by the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu cites failure of government to send the $1.4bn contract to print the ID Cards to Parliament for approval.

“First, it was our understanding that the National Identification Authority, would engage Members of Parliament in a meeting to clarify a number of issues relating to the roll out of the exercise. This meeting was duly advertised in the Business Statement at least twice only to be postponed again this time indefinitely when the Business Statement was read by the Majority Chief Whip, Hon. Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh last Friday the 8th of June, 2018. We still have no indication when this crucial meeting will be held.

“Second, significant questions remain about the cost, scope and  legality of the project as well as registration requirements.

“With regards to the cost of the project, the leadership of the NIA, has been less than candid with the people of Ghana. Whereas documents available to us show that the total project cost is $ 1.4 billion  which can be broken down down into $1,221,476,123 actual cost and tax exemption of $ 176 million, the Chief Executive Officer of the NIA, Prof Ken Attafuah, is on record as saying it will cost $ 293 million.

“We are also aware that despite the provision of Government support by the Akufo Addo government in respect of revenue projections for the project, this has not been brought to Parliament for approval in accordance with Ghanaian Law.

“Furthermore, we remain opposed to the restriction of identification requirements for registration to Passports and Birth Certificates. Our analysis show that this will prevent about 23 million Ghanaians from obtaining the Ghana Card and deprive them of any benefit thereof.

“We also have grave concerns about potential breaches of Procurement laws and processes.

“In view of the foregoing, we are unbale to participate in the registration exercise slated for tomorrow at Parliament house. Subsequent to this statement, we will hold a comprehensive press conference on Tuesday,12th June,2018 to shed more light on our position and matters arising out of the National Identification project.”

Speaker orders investigations into Anas video

Speaker of Parliament has directed leadership of the house to constitute a special committee to investigate the latest investigative piece by renowned undercover Journalist Anas which centered on the rot in Ghana Football.

Over a hundred football officials including the President of the Ghana Football Association, Kwesi Nyantakyi was captured in a secret filming receiving various sums of monies as bribes to compromise their fairness during matches, an act that has angered many Ghanaians, with football fans calling for the sacking asking of the GFA boss.

Mr. Nyantakyi is currently on a police enquiry bail after he is alleged to have used the name of President Akufo-Addo fraudulently in the Anas video.

Reacting to a call by members of the House for their intervention in the matter, the Speaker Professor Mike Ocquaye said Ghana’s constitution grants the legislature the power to investigate any person or institutions in the country and therefore deems it appropriate to initiate a probe into the content of the video.

“Parliament has the power to make laws to regulate professional, trade and business organisations. That is a very strong authority. If we have the power to regulate you, one of the criteria we are being told to look is whether you are acting democratically, and  if fraud or corruption is alleged, that cannot be democratic, for that matter we are entitled to look into that matter. And that is what our special committee does.

“Everyone knows we are in an era where we all agree that we are fighting corruption and parliament must be the authority that is most interested in view of its being representative body of the entire of Ghana. Since no person, body or institution can assume an immunity from parliamentary investigation, I ask that we form a special committee right now, we will quickly look at the matter and then we will show what recommendations we should make,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Ghana Football Association has given the assurance that there will be no cover-ups at the football organization following the revelations of ill-conduct by some officials in the investigative piece put together by journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas.

The FA however says it was not given the opportunity to view the video ahead of the Wednesday premiering even though they are a major part of its content.

“The GFA wishes to place on record that, there will be no attempt of a cover-up or shield any of our members caught in alleged acts of corruption. The GFA wishes to assure all that as an institution it does not condone any manner of corrupt practices,” the FA said in a statement.

Ethiopia’s parliament lifts state of emergency

Ethiopia’s parliament approved on Tuesday a government move to end a state of emergency two months earlier than planned, state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting reported.

The decision follows a weekend resolution by the Council of Ministers to noted that ‘law and order’ had been restored.

The state of emergency was imposed in mid February after the resignation of former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn which gave rise to a power struggle within the ruling coalition, Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

Fana Broadcasting reported that Ethiopia’s 547- seat House of People’s Representatives discussed the council’s resolution on Tuesday and overwhelmingly passed it with just eight abstentions.

All legislators in Ethiopia’s parliament are members of the ruling party.

Abiy champions political reforms

Abiy Ahmed, a former army officer who replaced Hailemariam as premier, has travelled around Ethiopia, promising to address grievances strengthen a range of political and civil rights.

Authorities have pledged to push through a raft of reforms that have included the release of thousands of prisoners.

Parliament ‘mad’ over constant absenteeism of MPs

Parliament has once again expressed worry about the constant absenteeism of Members .

The House was today faced with the issue of quorum as at the time of 10am on the forenoon, as members present were not up to one-third to enable the House transact business.

The House had to delay sitting until 11:20 am thereabout.

This triggered the anger of the leaders of the House who pleaded with their colleague MPs to be punctual and on time in coming to Parliament.

Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, who first raised the issue urged Members to strive to be in the chamber to transact business. He said no member should absent himself without the prior approval of the Speaker.

Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu on his part admonished his colleagues to be punctual in the House.

He said it surprises him that on Tuesday, 207 members reported to Parliament but only few were in the chamber while sitting was ongoing.

This, he said does not augur well for the image of the House.

First deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon Joseph Osei Owusu who presided over the affairs of the House said the continuous absenteeism of Members is casting a bad image on Parliament and therefore urged Members to reconsider their ways.