Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak, Member of Parliament (MP) for Asawase and Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, yesterday clashed with his leader, Cletus Avoka, over the business of the House.
A serious disagreement ensued between the two when Muntaka pointed out that the members of Health Committee were marked absent in the votes and proceedings of the House, although they had sought permission to consider six bills outside Parliament.
Avoka, who is the Majority Leader and MP for Zebilla, protested that the committee members could not be deemed to be present in the House because his directive had been flouted by Muntaka not to hold the meeting outside Parliament due to fewer numbers in the legislature.
Uncharacteristically however, Muntaka challenged the Majority Leader, protesting vehemently that his leader was not telling the House the whole truth about what really transpired before the committee meeting.
According to Muntaka, he reminded the Majority Leader about the meeting, expecting that permission had been granted in line with the House’s convention that anytime a committee or a member made a request for leave of absence, that request was deemed to have been approved.
He explained that the Health Committee was given six bills to consider and so they applied as far back as December to meet on the bills from January 17 to 23, 2011, with the expectation that the House was going to reconvene on January 22, 2011.
However, the committee had to reschedule the meeting period, with a reminder to the Majority Leader, because reconvening of the House was shifted forward to January 18, 2011.
Muntaka, who is also a former Minister for Youth and Sports, indicated that he pleaded with his colleagues to expedite action so they could present their report on the bills to House in good time.
He said as result of this, members of the committee had to use three days to work day and night on the bills, instead of the originally-planned period of one week.
Apologizing for the apparent confusion, the former Minister urged the House to make a definitive decision on leave of absence. “If it is that a member or a committee should receive a reply to be absent from the House after making a request for leave absence, then let us agree on that,” Muntaka urged. Eventually, Speaker Justice Joyce Bamford-Addo ruled all applications for leave of absence should always be addressed to her for consideration.
She also asserted she had to grant leave of absence to any member of committee at all times.
Later, the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, laid a paper for a Developing Finance Agreement between the Government of Ghana and the International Development Association for an amount of $215 million. The loan agreement, when approved, would be used for the Seventh Poverty Reduction Support Credit (PRSC-7).