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Speaker sets up committee to probe US$100k expats levy

The Speaker of Parliament, Mike Aaron Oquaye has set up a five-member committee adhoc to investigate claims expatriates paid as high as US$100,000 to sit close to President Akufo-Addo at an event.

This follows a heated and partisan debate that greeted a motion filed by 80 minority Members of Parliament who demanded the parliamentary probe.

Members of Parliament were therefore summoned to sit on the motion on Friday, where the decision to investigate the action by the Trade and Industry Ministry was taken.

The ad hoc committee would be chaired by Ameyaw Kyereme, MP for Sunyani East. Other members are Dr Mark Asibey Yeboah, MP for New Juabeng South; Yaw Buabeng Asamoah, MP for Adentan;  James Avedzi, MP for Ketu North;  and Dominic Akuritinga Ayine, MP for Bolga East.

The five-member committee is expected to start work from January 23 when the house returns from recess.

The Minority Chief Whip and MP for Asawase, Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, in a memorandum, endorsed by other minority MPs, on December 27, 2017, petitioned the Speaker of Parliament to commence an investigation into monies collected by the Trade and Industry Ministry from expatriates at the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards held in Accra recently.

 The expatriates were allegedly asked by the ministry to pay from USD25,000 to USD100,000 to sit close to the President, Nana Akufo-Addo at the event.

In Parliament on Friday, the MP for North Tongu and Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who seconded the motion, argued that the issue at stake was “very significant”, therefore recalling MPs to consider it was necessary.

But the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu felt the motion was needless to warrant their recall.

Aside not seeing the issue on board as that important, he pointed out other things such as “lack of signatures” of some of the petitioners and also challenged the right of the petitioners to set the agenda for the recall.

“So clearly, what we have before us is a very incompetent motion which shall not be entertained in this house,” he prayed the Speaker to dismiss the motion.

After almost an hour of back-and-forth which saw both sides taking entrenched positions, the Speaker gave a 30-minute break and directed the petitioners to change the “procedural” errors on their motion.

The House resumed from break with a decision where the leadership agreed that a five-member committee should be tasked to “further investigate” the allegations as raised by the Minority.

Th terms of reference given the Committee include:

1). When did the matter under consideration arise?

2). Can it be perceived in terms of what is described as Novus actus interveniens(meaning is this something new that has arisen?).

3). Could the matter have been raised during the regular sitting session with prudent vigilance?

4). Has the matter been raised in any form whatsoever during the session and why raise it in moment Parliament is on recess.

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