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General News Mon, 10 Nov 2003

Secrets Of Speaker's Holiday Trip

According to the Concord newspaper, its investigations has revealed that the Speaker of Parliament, Peter Ala Adjetey circumvented the procedure and rule of his conditions of service when he got the Finance Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo to approve $15,974 for his two-week annual leave to Dublin, Ireland.

The paper says the trip was not approved by the Parliamentary Service Board of which the Speaker is the Chairman and which should have approved the trip.

“Indeed, the Speaker recognizing that he needed approval from the Board had earlier directed that his holiday request be placed before it for consideration and approval”, the paper noted.

But the Speaker decided to undertake his $15,974 holiday trip a week before the scheduled meeting of the Board instead of waiting for the Board’s consideration and approval. The Speaker also failed to call for an urgent meeting of the Board after the Office of the President refused to approve the amount for the holiday to Ireland. A letter from the Chief of Staff to the Clerk of Parliament stated that the Executive “has no mandate to approve the Speaker’s request to take his annual leave”. After the rejection by the President’s office, the Speaker’s office wrote letters to the Majority and Minority members of the House asking for their approval. The Minority Leader, Alban Bagbin, reportedly stated that the issue needed further discussion because Article 71 of the Constitution and the Greenstreet Report does not allow that.

The Majority, Felix Owusu Agyepong later met the Minority Leader casually on the issue after which he sought his consent on the request made by the Speaker. He unilaterally wrote a letter to the Clerk of Parliament informing him that the Leaders from both sides of the political divide had approved of the Speaker’s allowance. But the Minority Leader “fired another riposte re-echoing his stance that the issue had to be discussed further to set the records straight”, the paper noted.

Without further discussions, the Clerk wrote to the Minister of Finance, Yaw Osafo Maafo, to authorize the release of the $15,974 for the Speaker’s annual leave.

The Public Affairs Director of Parliament, Jones Kugblenu has however justified the Speaker’s allowance. He challenged anybody who doubts the constitutionality to go to the Supreme Court to seek clarification or redress on the issue.

According to him, the former Speaker of the House, Justice D. F. Annan did not need any approval because of his close ties with former President Rawlings.

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