MPs Punch Minister Over ‘No Answer’

Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Vincent Asamoah-Oppong, had a tough time in Parliament yesterday after he had told Members of the House that he could not provide answers to questions relating to the breakdown of the Water Works at Tanoso in the Offinso North District of the Ashanti Region.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member for Offinso North, Augustine Collins Ntim, had filed an urgent question about two weeks ago as to what plans the Ministry had to urgently repair the broken down Water Works, which occurred about two months ago. The Deputy Minister, who stood in for the substantive Minister, Collins Dauda, told Parliament that he could not provide any answer to the question because the technical people at the Ministry had not been able to complete their assessment of the damage caused to the facility – which serves the people in the district.

The Deputy Minister also failed to supply an answer to another question filed by the same MP before recess, regarding what measures the Ministry had put in place to replace an overhead reservoir at Nkenkaasu – also in the Offinso North District – that had broken down for the past one year.

Members of Parliament from both sides of the political divide did not understand why the Deputy Minister should come to the floor of the House to say that he did not have answers to questions filed by Members, with some arguing strongly that it was a sign of great disrespect to the representatives of the people.

“If the Deputy Minister could come to the floor of the House and tell Members that he does not have answers to their questions then what business does he have to be at the Ministry as a Deputy Minister,” the Deputy Minority Leader and NPP MP for Bimbilla, Dominic Nitiwul, queried.

He said it was sad that ministers could not exert their authorities on technical people who serve under them, and come to Parliament only to ‘joke’ when urgent answers are demanded of them.

“Parliament has been taken for granted for far too long because government officials think it is a toothless bulldog, but this time round we will show them that parliament has teeth to bite,” he cautioned.

Speaker Edward Doe Adjaho said that the Deputy Minister could not be absolved from blame for failing to answer the Nkenkaasu reservoir question which was filed long ago.

“The Minister cannot tell us that for about six to eight weeks that the question was sent to the Ministry, the Ministers had not been able to gather the required information as an answer to the question,” the Speaker said, stressing that “these things must not be allowed to continue.”

Mr. Adjaho said for Parliament to be relevant to the aspirations of the people of the country, it ought to hold government officials accountable.

He therefore directed the Deputy Minister to come back either today or tomorrow to answer all the questions that had been forwarded to his outfit by Members of the House.

A question filed by the NPP Member of Parliament for Nsawam/Adoagyiri, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, asking the Minister of Youth and Sports what plans his outfit had to empower the National Youth Authority (NYA) to address the problem of unemployment confronting the youth of the country, was deferred by the Speaker.

The Nsawam/Adoagyiri MP told DAILY GUIDE that he was not happy about the reason given for the deferment of his question which he thought was very crucial.