General News of Thursday, 21 September 2017
The Minority in Parliament has served notice that it will boycott deliberations on the controversial AMERI deal. Members of the Mines and Energy Committee in Parliament led by Hon.
Adam Mutawakilu the spokesperson for Mines and Energy in a statement said: ‘’ We, the Minority Members of the Mines and Energy Committee, have decided upon careful consideration of the relevant facts, not to take part in the deliberations of the Committee in respect of the urgent motion filed by Hon. K.T Hammond requesting that the House rescinds the decision it gave in approving the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) agreement between the Government of Ghana and Africa and Middle East Resources Investment Group LLC (AMERI Energy) on grounds of gross misrepresentation.
The statement added, ‘’ The Minority does not want to be part of any bad precedent as far as parliamentary practice is concerned. Parliament as an arm of Government conducts its business on the dictates of the standing orders as stipulated under Article 110 (1) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
In other words, any action or move taken by any Member of the House has to be witnin the remit of the Constitution and the Standing Orders. It is worthy to note that there is no part, section or rule of the Standing Orders that allows for a motion to be referred to a committee after it has been moved and seconded to without any deliberations by the House.
This cannot be found in the current Standing Orders or any Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana since Independence.
Secondly, it is strange that Hon. K.T Hammond, who was/is not a party to the agreement, is requesting Parliament to rescind its decision on the basis of gross misrepresentation. Hon. K.T Hammond has NO LOCUS STANDI in this matter.
Though we in the Minority respect the concerns and Standing of Hon K.T Hammond as a member of the Committee on Mines and Energy to take up matters pertaining to the sector, in the overall circumstances of this matter, we think his request should not be honored.
In all these developments, it is surprising that the Government of Ghana which is a party to this agreement has remained silent on its position. We therefore call on the government to come clear on its position with regards to the agreement.
It must be noted that, though Parliament has a constitutional role in the approval of International Economic or Financial Agreements to which the Government is a party, Parliament becomes FUNCTUS OFFICIO after approving such agreements.
Once approved, the agreements are now in the domain of the parties thereto which, in this case, the Executive Arm of Government and AMERI Energy. If there is anything untoward about the agreement, it is for the parties to say so and take the necessary action within the framework of the agreement to vindicate their rights and not for any other person.
Indeed, in the Supreme Court case of NDEBUGRE v ATTORNEY-GENERAL & ANOR, Suit Number J1/5/2013 (unreported), the Supreme Court held that where Parliament exercised its constitutional function of approving an agreement without indicating that it has a future role in the termination or variation of the terms of the agreement, Parliament cannot subsequently purport to partake in termination or varying such terms.
In the specific instance of AMERI BOOT agreement, Parliament failed and/or neglected to indicate in the approval decision that it retained a future role in the termination of the agreement. Therefore, the attempt to do so using the motion filed by Hon. K.T Hammond is, in our considered opinion, ultra vires the powers of Parliament and hence unconstitutional.
Finally, we must make it abundantly clear that the terms of the agreement contain dispute resolution mechanisms including resort to court action. We want to urge Hon. K.T Hammond to make his evidence of gross misrepresentation available to the Government which is a party to the agreement for the appropriate action to be taken.
Government has every right to review past contracts and to correct every wrong therein in the interest of the people of Ghana; we take the view that this must be done in the right way and through the right means and not through the subterfuge of a motion for rescission.
The Minority Members of the Committee are ever ready and willing to listen to, enquire into and deliberate on any issue appropriately brought before the Committee. The Committee is accordingly advised to take note of the decision of Members of the Minority.