A recommendation by the Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs Committee of parliament seeking approval of an amount of GH¢11 million to fight the outbreak of bird flu in the country has turned into a heated debate.
Some minority members challenged the amount saying some specific demands were not necessary in an emergency situation to control an outbreak.
Leading the charge for the budget presented to be slashed, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Old Tafo said it was strange that the Ministry has earmarked GH¢3 million for the purchase of 20 vehicles just to contain an outbreak which had been sporadic.
“If we are talking about containing an emergency situation do we have to buy 20 cars and for what purpose?” He asked stressing that some people at the Ministry want to take advantage of the outbreak of the disease to ‘ride’ in big cars.
He also said that for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to present an initial budget of GH¢13.5 million to the committee for approval which was slashed down to GH¢11 million means that some people at the ministry want to take advantage of the outbreak of the disease to ‘chop’.
The committee had indicated in its report that the Chief of Staff had already directed the Minister of Finance to release an amount of GH¢3.8 million to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture because of the urgent nature of the situation to start the fight against the spread of the disease but Dr Akoto Osei said there was no evidence to show that the Chief of Staff had given that directive.
“We want a proof of the directive of the Chief of Staff so that as parliamentarians we can satisfy ourselves with it,” he said.
The NPP MP for Sekondi, Papa Owusu-Ankomah said if the situation was that urgent why should the Ministry of Agriculture order vehicles which would take some time to be delivered while vehicles could easily be mobilised to do the work.
“I don’t think the purchase of the vehicles are necessary because it is an emergency situation that we have to deal with without wasting time at all,” he said.
The deputy ministers of Food and Agriculture, Dr Hannah Bissiw and Dr Yakubu Alhassan who are National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament for Tano South and Mion respectively maintained strongly that the acquisition of the vehicles are important for the overall programme to control and eradicate the disease.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr
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