The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, yesterday expressed his profound apology to parliament for appearing late to lay a number of papers before the house.
This was after the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho, had expressed his disgust over the absence of the Finance Minister and his two deputies in the house to lay the papers.
Dr. Duffuor popped in minutes after Mr. Adjaho had deferred the laying of the papers and rejected an application by the Majority Chief Whip, Gershon K.B Gbediame (NDC Nkwanta South), to allow the Minister of State at the Presidency, Hajia Rafatu Halutie Dubie Alhassan (NDC Sisala East), to lay the papers on behalf of the minister.
“I apologise for what happened. I am very sorry,” the Finance Minister said with humility.
Mr. Adjaho said it is for a purpose that ministers had deputies so that if substantive ministers were not available, the deputies would be available to conduct business on their behalf
He said the attitude of the house towards its business depended on the attitude of ministers in showing seriousness in the business they bring to the house.
The Member of Parliament for Avenor Ave was compelled to take that decision to defer the laying of the papers following complaints from both the minority and majority side about the persistent absence of ministers in the house when it mattered most.
Last Friday, members of parliament raised similar concerns about the failure of ministers to appear before the house to answer questions that had been filed sometimes over two years.
Minority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (NPP Suame) said after the eventful day last Friday, the ministers would have taken a cue and take the house seriously and ask whether any lessons had been learnt.
Mr. David Tetteh Assumeng, (NDC Shai Osudoku) said the issue of absence of ministers had been so recurring in the house that parliament seem not to find solution to the issue and requested that the laying of the paper be stepped down until the minister was available to lay the papers.
Isaac Asiamah (NPP Atwimah-Mponua) said it was not proper for the Majority Chief Whip to tell the house that the Ministers were absent because of other important engagement without stating the exact national assignment they were engaged in.
“Today is a working day, if we cannot find the ministers on this working day, where are they? The house should be told concrete reasonable reason why they are not available,” Mr. Asiamah demanded.
Prof Mike Oquaye (NPP Dome/Kwabenya), Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, who later assumed the chair accepted Dr. Duffuor’s apology and allowed him to lay the papers.
The papers are credit facility agreement between the government and Fidelity Bank for 24.1 million euros to finance the purchase of the remaining two out of four M1-171 SH Helicopter for the Ghana Air Force, financing agreement between the government and Stanbic Bank for 15.8 million euros for the purchase of 200 ambulances for the National Ambulance Service, and US $20 million financing agreement with the International Development Association to finance regional trade facilitation project phase two.
Others are financing agreement between the government and International Development Association for US$30 million and US$10 million grant from the Statistics for Results Facility Catalytic Fund to finance the Ghana Statistical Development Programme as well as a request for a waiver of custom duties, taxes, VAT and NHIL, GCNet, destination inspection fees, EDIF and ECOWAS levies amounting to US$512,758.00 on goods to be procured under the Northern Rural Growth Programme.