7 major achievements of old minority leadership in parliament
The tenure of the Member of Parliament for Tamale South, Haruna Iddrisu, as Minority Leader in Ghana’s parliament may well be over for now, but that cannot be without some of the huge impacts his administration chalked in the last six years.
Having become the Minority Leader in 2017 after the current government, led by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, took over political office, the outspoken former leader of parliament has been in the news for many good and bad things.
However, in this GhanaWeb article, we take a look at some seven major achievements that were chalked under his tenure.
This life is made available via JoyNews and elaborated on by this news portal. Here they are:
NDC Speaker of Parliament from the Minority side:
It was the kind of news that took the entire nation by surprise when it emerged that, for the first time in Ghana’s history, the person who had been elected to be the Speaker of Parliament was from the minority side of the House.
Alban Bagbin, who had not long ago said his goodbyes to contesting the seat of the Nadowli/Kaleo constituency ( the seat he held from 1992 until 2020), beat the more incumbent Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye to become the Speaker of Parliament.
His election coincided with the historic 8th Parliament of Ghana, which is the first hung Parliament ever in the country, with a split of 137 seats each on both sides of the House.
However, the only independent Member of Parliament, who is also currently the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Andrew Asiamah Amoako of the Fomena constituency, was elected to vote with the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
The election of Alban Bagbin as Ghana’s Speaker of Parliament remains, perhaps, the biggest achievement of the Haruna Iddrisu administration.
Rejection of 2022 budget:
On November 26, 2021, the Haruna Iddrisu-led minority in parliament chalked up another first when they rejected the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy that was presented to the House.
The statement was presented by the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta.
On the day, parliament was expected to bring a finality to its debate of the budget, and eventually approve it, but things spiralled differently.
In a turn of events, the Majority MPs staged a walkout of the House, leaving only members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) side to decide on the budget.
They eventually voted for the rejection of the budget, making it the first time such a thing had happened in the country.
However, days later, there was a reverse move by the Majority when they resumed sitting. They overturned the earlier decision of the Speaker of Parliament, who was absent on that day, led by the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament and a member of the NPP, Joseph Osei-Owusu.
Got E-Levy rate reduced from 1.75% to 1.5%:
Through the influence of the Minority, the initially proposed 1.75% Electronic Transfer Levy (E-Levy) that was presented to parliament, was reduced to 1.5%.
The E-Levy, which has since become law, allows for the government to tax all digital money platforms, such as Mobile Money services, a tax on all transactions made.
The E-Levy, which was a controversial bill before parliament for a very long time, has recently been reviewed further to 1%.
Blocked government from fully financing National Cathedral:
On Wednesday, December 14, 2022, parliament’s Trades and Industry Committee suspended the approval process for an amount of GH¢80 million allocated for the construction of the National Cathedral.
The allocation was the first time an amount had been explicitly made in lieu of the project, with previous disbursements made out of the Contingency Fund.
According to Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, over GH¢330 million has so far been expended from the Fund.
The 2023 allocation was made in respect of the Ministry of Tourism (MoT), but the Committee’s said the previous disbursements will need to be justified along with the new allocation for the budgeted sum to be approved.
Tamale Central Member of Parliament, Ibrahim Murtala Mohammed, who disclosed the development to Accra-based JoyNews on December 13, said the suspension will be in place till justification for the allocation is made.
“What the Committee decided was that we cannot just approve this GH¢80 million, we must know how the other GH¢339 million was spent. What did it constitute?
“The GH¢80 million you want us to approve, how did it find space in the budget line of the Ministry of Tourism when the Minister and the directors could not speak to the questions we were asking? What constitutes the GH¢80 million, they should give us a breakdown,” he stressed.
Probe into COVID-19 expenditure:
On Thursday, June 2, 2022, Haruna Iddrisu led the Minority in Parliament to demand that a probe be made into the expenditure that has been made so far in the country’s fight against the Coronavirus.
According to him, the Minority is vindicated by the fact that a leading member of the NPP publicly disclosed that COVID funds were shared among party executives.
His comment followed claims that some COVID-19 monies had been shared among NPP members.
”As much as we feel vindicated, we also feel equally scandalised by emerging reports by leading members of the NPP in particular, a leading Vice-Chair called Felicia Tetteh, who is publicly reported to have said that COVID monies were shared among party leadership, constituencies, regional and for my purposes, I add national,” he said in a press conference.
Haruna Iddrisu further stated their demand for an immediate investigation into the matter.
“That in fact makes our call for an imminent investigation of the highly anomalous COVID expenditure spending to be probed. We now can understand why a motion by the Minority in Parliament to probe COVID by an institution which should be the most fundamental institution and guardian of the public purse, parliament, will dismiss the motion even at birth by actors of the New Patriotic Party political administration,” he added.
In August 2022, the probe eventually started.
Ken Ofori-Atta dragged before a vote of censure committee:
After several attempts to get the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, to resign, the Minority, led by Haruna Iddrisu and Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson (the new Minority Leader), initiate a parliamentary process to remove the minister.
He was eventually dragged before an ad hoc committee that was set up by the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, to look into the vote of censure motion brought before the House.
It become another historic moment, seeing that in the history of the country, this was only the second time that a minister of state was facing a vote of censure.
The Speaker of Parliament, after reviewing the report presented to him by the committee called for a vote to be taken on the motion.
The Majority however staged a walkout, leaving their colleagues on the other side of the House to deliberate alone, but they were unable to get the motion passed because they failed to make up the needed numbers to pass it.
The vote of censure eventually failed.
Blocked the controversial Agyapa deal:
The government of Ghana, through Ken Ofori-Atta, presented a deal to parliament that the Minority fought vehemently against.
Known as the Agyapa deal, the government sought to securitise Ghana’s mineral resources for development.
However, with strong resistance from the Minority, led by Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson, the deal has since been suspended.
The government has however been making unsuccessful attempts to reintroduce it in parliament.