MPs Face Afari-Gyan

Parliament could not rise yesterday as previously announced and shifted it to Tuesday, April 1, due to the load of business on its hand.

The House will officially be meeting with the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan and his lieutenants on Monday for them to brief Members on preparations so far made towards the District Assembly Elections in October this year, following concerns raised by some Members that the Chairman of the Commission himself had publicly noted that the afore-mentioned elections would not come off as scheduled due to the delay in releasing funds for the exercise.

Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan had told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament in February – when he appeared before the Committee to answer questions relating to the Commission’s audited accounts for 2010 and 2011 – that the 2014 District Level Elections scheduled for October, would have to be pushed forward because of the late release of funds by the government.

The revelation by the EC boss was in an answer to a question by the Chairman of PAC, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, who wanted to find out whether the EC was putting in place proper measures to ensure that the district elections that were conducted in bits in 2010 – christened ‘tot tot’ elections – would not recur.

Afari-Gyan said the elections were based on time lines and therefore late release of funds would definitely affect the whole process and also change the date on which the elections would be held.

There were other outstanding issues relating to some allowances that ought to be paid to MPs which had not been done, and therefore the extension of the rising date would allow for a resolution of those issues.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Kwabre East, Kofi Frimpong, drew the Speaker’s attention to the fact that Tuesday, April 1 – which is the extended date for the House to rise – is an ‘April Fool’s Day’ and therefore wanted him to assure Members that they would not be ‘April fooled’ on the day.

Members, in approving the formula for the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF), unanimously chastised the government for not paying the statutory funds on time to move development at the district assembly level forward.

There was a strong recommendation to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to consider the issue of release of funds very seriously as the matter borders on infringement on the laws of the country, urging him to ensure that this statutory obligation is fulfilled by the timely payment of all arrears due to the Fund.

The Common Fund for distribution this year amounts to about GH¢1.4 billion which is 7.5 percent of total revenue collected by the government.

By the close of the day, the House had also approved the formulae for the distribution of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).

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