No more deputies; Finance Minister ordered to appear in Parliament

The Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye has directed the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta to be in Parliament himself to answer questions filed by Members of the House.

Prof. Mike Oquaye’s ruling follows the Minority’s insistence that the Minister and not his deputies be present to answer questions which mainly concern mobile money transactions and other details about the banking sector reforms.

The questions were to be answered on Thursday but the Minister wrote to the House asking for a leave of absence.

In such cases, Deputy Finance Ministers, some of whom are Members of Parliament, are allowed to answer questions on behalf of the sector Minister.

The Deputy Minority Leader, James Avedzi complained on the Floor of the House on Thursday that Mr. Ofori-Atta never honoured calls to address MPs in person.

“We only see the Minister here when he stands in dispatch box to represent the budget statement or you see him seated behind the [Majority] Leader using his hand to support his jaw. But we want to see him come into the dispatch box to answer questions.”

“The Minister of Finance himself should come and answer the questions in accordance with the date suggested by his good self,” Prof Oquaye directed.

The Minority in Parliament has in the past demanded answers from the Finance Minister, along with the Governor of Bank of Ghana over the state of the banking sector.

The Minority’s concerns came on the back of the take over of uniBank by the Bank of Ghana, some eight months after the central bank supervised the take over of Capital and UT Banks by Ghana Commercial Bank in the onset of the banking crisis.

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The banks collapsed despite the fact that the Bank of Ghana had supported them with hundreds of millions of cedis to enable them to recover from distress.

In August 2018, the Bank of Ghana consolidated five other local banks into what it calls the Consolidated Bank Ghana limited.

The banks were Beige Bank, Construction Bank, Royal Bank, uniBank and Sovereign Bank.

The Minority has maintained that customers and the general public should be properly informed of developments within the sector.

Mr. Ofori-Atta has generally assured that the government will ensure persons responsible for the collapse of some local banks in the country will be made to face the law.