Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has expressed displeasure about actions taken by Majority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu following comments he made on Thursday about parliament being run on arrears owing to delayed release of funds.
Mr. Bagbin, while speaking on the floor of parliament on Thursday, May, 26 bemoaned what he said were delays by the Finance Ministry with the release of needed funds for the running of parliament business.
According to him, the House has halted the approval of some financial commitments as a result.
“Parliament is currently being run on arrears and the House should not be treated as one of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs),” Bagbin said.
Following this, Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu expressed disappointment about the development while granting interviews to some media houses on Thursday, suggesting that the Speaker was bringing the government’s name into disrepute.
During Friday’s sitting, Speaker Alban Bagbin again raised the issue, condemning the Majority Leader’s actions and rebuking him over what he said was an attempt to undermine his authority over the House.
According to him, such instances never occur in parliaments in other countries like the United Kingdom where the House is supreme.
“In Ghana, parliament is not supreme, it’s subject to the constitution and so it’s important that when the Speaker speaks from the chair, the leader of the House, [that is the leader of the members of parliament], is not seen to be the one countering what the spokesperson of the arm of government says.
“If they want us to give documentary evidence about the non-funding of the House for this year, we’ll provide them. So, when I heard that the leader of the House has gone on air to say that what I said wasn’t true, it saddens me,” he said.
According to him, his comments about the delayed release of funds as Speaker is what necessitated the speedy release of same by the Finance Ministry on the same day.
“In response to what I said yesterday, the government proceeded to release money yesterday, quickly to the House to enable the House function properly,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Majority Chief Whip in parliament, Frank Annoh Dompreh, following Thursday’s sitting, also held a press conference during which he told journalists that comments made by the Speaker were inaccurate.
According to him, monies had already been officially released for parliament at the time the Speaker made those comments and that, it was a matter of it to go through the appropriate quarters before it hits the accounts of the August House.
“Yesterday when Speaker was lamenting, indeed, officially, the release had been effected. We were just going through the processes. The communication often comes from the Finance Ministry, it goes to the comptroller, comptroller does the releases, it goes through BoG before it hits the account of parliament, that is the normal process and so the process had kick-started and so it was a matter of few hours for it to hit the account,” he said.
“Interestingly, around 2 to 3, I got a confirmation that the money has indeed hit the account. So I’m quite surprised, I don’t know if it’s because the clerk failed to update the Speaker accordingly because the Speaker’s statement was a bit presumptious and with the greatest of respect to him, if he had exercised a bit of restraint, he may not have made that statement,” he added.
There have been previous instances where both the Speaker and Majority Leader have had major disagreements about happenings in parliament.
Aside from the appointment of Asiedu Nketia as a member of the Parliamentary Service Board, there was a previous rift between the two about whose position was superior to the other, following a petition by former Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Kwabena Duffour over the collapse of UniBank.