General News Wed, 11 Feb 2004

Parliament suspends debate on budget

Accra, Feb. 11, GNA- Parliament on Wednesday adjourned prematurely till Thursday following arguments between Mr Johnson Asiedu-Nketiah, NDC-Wenchi West and the Speaker Mr Peter Ala Adjetey, prompting the Minority Chief Whip, Mr Edward Doe-Adjaho to move a motion for adjournment of proceedings.

Tempers began to rise during the debate on the 2004 Budget when Mr Asiedu-Nketia claimed that the increases and successes in the cocoa industry in the country was as a result of smuggling from a neighbouring country.

Mr Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Chief Whip, on a point of order said the statement was "horrendous and mischievous" and asked that Mr Asiedu-Nketia should substantiate or withdraw the statement.

The Speaker, Mr Peter Ala Adjetey agreed with Mr Mensah-Bonsu and said evidence for such claims was necessary since it affected the economy, the reputation of the country and the hard work of the Ghanaian Cocoa Farmer.

He, therefore, ruled that the Member should withdraw the statement and apologise or support his claims.

When Mr Asiedu-Nketia stood up he did not apologise but sought to justify his claims saying that some members of the Majority, including the Senior Minister and Western Regional Minister, had said smuggling was going on across the border.


The Speaker interrupted and said there was a difference between saying smuggling was going on and claming that smuggling was solely responsible for the increase in cocoa production. The Speaker said he took great exception to the "untoward behaviour" of Mr Asiedu-Nketia, who gesticulated and shouted "Mr Speaker how can I explain myself when you are not even allowing me to talk!"

Business on the floor of the House virtually came to a standstill as both sides shouted at each to sit down and this was reduced to hot exchanges between the two Chief Whips, who ignored the intermittent shouts of "Order! Order!" from the Speaker.

"Control yourselves do not talk across the chamber. You are breaking tradition. Our Parliament is not known for this. Do not destroy our grand reputation", the Speaker strained himself to get heard. It was at this stage that order was restored and Mr Asiedu Nketia was given the chance to apologise and withdraw the statement. "I am sorry and withdraw for now", he said, and immediately packed his books and walked out of the chamber.

Mr Doe-Adjaho quickly rose to the occasion and invoked Standing Order 48 (1) and (2) that there was no quorum in the House for the debate on the Budget to continue although the debate had been going on with the same number of members.

The Speaker said he had no option but to comply with the provision of the standing order 48. It states that if a motion of lack of a quorum were moved and after 10 minutes there was still no quorum the House should adjourn.

Earlier, Mr Dan Abodakpi, NDC-Keta commended the government for some successes chalked in revenue mobilisation through the application of GCNet System at the ports but claimed credit for it saying the "Minister of Finance failed woefully to thank me for instituting the system".

Source: GNA