General News of Wed, 18 Jul 201815
Drama in parliament over Eastern University loan
There was drama in parliament yesterday as the Majority New Patriotic Party (NPP) and Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) again clashed over the approval of $90 million loan facility to finance the establishment of a campus of the University of Environment and Sustainable Development.
The debate preceding the approval on Friday also generated a lot of tension and acrimony on the floor before the eventual approval that was to have been put to a voice vote on Friday but was deferred to yesterday by the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu who was presiding at the time for lack of quorum for the approval and adoption of the Finance Committee’s report on the said loan.
But yesterday’s voice vote and adoption of the report also generated a lot of drama with the minority calling for a head count while the majority also said the voice vote was enough for the adoption of the committee’s report with both sides threatening to boycott proceedings to register their positions.
Before the voice vote was taken by the Speaker of Parliament, Prof Mike Oquaye on the approval of the loan, the minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu had pleaded with the speaker to consider the combined effect of Orders 109 and 113 to allow for a head count but the majority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu had also strongly disputed that saying that the last stage left was for a voice vote to be taken which was deferred for lack of quorum for the approval.
The speaker called for the voice vote and later asked for the head count which generated a hullabaloo in the House with the majority members threatening to boycott proceedings while the minority cheered on the speaker for his decision to allow for a head count after the voice vote which the speaker had declared for ‘Aye’ votes and for that matter the majority.
After the head count, the majority had 125 votes while the minority had 75 votes with the minority also objecting to the result and subsequent adoption of the Finance Committee’s report with a threat to boycott proceedings.
There were sharp disagreements and entrenched positions during the debate on Friday over the Bunso campus of the University of Environment and Sustainable Development which is also expected to have other campuses at Somanya and Donkorkrom, all in the Eastern Region with the minority members led by their leader, Haruna Iddrisu completely dissenting to the loan agreement.
Members of the minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) on the Finance Committee which scrutinized the agreement also completely refused to agree with the loan agreement at the committee level allowing only the majority to approve the report of the committee with nine votes as against seven votes by the minority.
The argument of the minority was that the law that established the university to be sited in the Eastern Region, Act 898 did not include Bunso as one of original campuses and so for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government to circumvent provisions of the law to include Bunso is a clear breach of the law and a slap in the face of the Constitution.