Minister dodges questions on Volta Star Textiles Company

… As Ablakwa expresses frustration

Hon. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakw, Member of Parliament(MP) for North Tongu in the Volta Region, has expressed  his frustration as  he wonders at how  the  Minister of Trade and Industries, Alan Kwadwo Kyeremanten, perfected the art of dodging questions posed to him in parliament.

Over three weeks, questions on the Order Paper for the Trade and Industries have been deferred to another date without a guarantee that the query will receive attention.

The minister and his two deputies all failed and delegated colleague Minister  for Parliamentary Affairs and Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, to apologise on their behalf for their absence.

The Majority Leader had explained to members and the Speaker that the minister was outside the jurisdiction and had not also made his answers/facts available to his deputies on those probing questions to be put to him.

Hon. Ablakwa has posed the question on the Order Paper on two weeks, wanting to know from the Minister for Trade and Industries the progress of work on the private participation in the future of Volta Star Textiles Limited at Juapong in the Volta Region..

In the interest of the North Tongu legislator, the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) entered into a deal for private participation in the Volta Star Textiles before leaving office on January 7, this year.

He said the NDC revived the industry for operation with a bailout from Export Development and Investment Fund (EDIF) and before leaving office, it initiated a process for a private investor to buy shares.

However, that could not materialise and the Price House Coppers was brought as Transaction Advisors to the project, stating, the question for the Trade and Industries Minister is to know the status of that initiative.

The private participation, the MP pointed out, would undoubtedly trigger more production and in the end increase employment opportunity for the youth in the North Tongu, its catchment area and the country at large.

While expressing his frustration, Mr. Ablakwa said since May, this year, he has been trying to get  some answers  from most of the ministers including Trade and Industries Minister, Minister of Roads and Highways,  Minister for the Interior, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The issues, he said, are the Volta Star Textiles, some major roads in the North Tongu District, the security the government is providing to Ghanaians and Foreign matters involving Ghanaians outside in Niger, USA and other countries, but up to now, some of the questions have not been granted by the Speaker of Parliament and the one granted has not also been answered.

The former Deputy Minister of Education and Minority Ranking Member on Foreign Committee of Parliament, said, he has not been treated fairly, because, per order 64(2), urgent questions should not take more than 10 days to be answered, while Order 63(2) also provides that ordinary questions should not take more than three weeks.

He said, some of the urgent questions tabled for answers concern the over 7,000 Ghanaians who have been deported from the USA, some Ghanaians allegedly killed/died on the desert in Niger Republic and Ghanaians also reportedly receiving bad treatment at the Gulf States.

The  questions posed, Mr. Ablakwa stated, had been on the Clerk’s record books, but  the Speaker for weeks and counting has not granted them fore on unknown reasons, vowing that, he would continue to push for the right to know the plight of Ghanaians in and outside the country.

Though Mr. Ablakwa is not the only legislator from the opposition or ruling party who has waited for months with his questions going unanswered by government ministers, Parliament’s question-and-answer session generally reveals how a minister is versed with issues under his or her portfolio, judging by the way he or she tackles the issues raised.

In some cases, the responses reflect how government is accountable for its actions. But since the emergence of a strong opposition in 2017, many ministers have literally been caught napping by probing questions asked by the Minority.

They have responded by adopting a casual approach to parliamentary business to avoid thorny issues.

Many MPs believe that the appointment of non-constituency ministers has contributed to this, as ministers pay allegiance to the person who appoints them, not the people they are supposed to serve.

For the past six months, the problem of absentee politicians, some of whom show so much zeal during campaigns for polls by turning up at every political meeting or rally has continued unabated.

Those who turn up for parliamentary sessions have a generally half-hearted approach to the business of the House as they either skirt around questions or provide no satisfactory explanations for legitimate concerns.

One is reminded of a hollow answer by Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu in on 14th June,2017when asked by the MP for Bole constituency, Yussif, of what is the current state of the construction works at the Bole Community Health Nurses Training College?

The Health Minister said: “The Ministry has no project currently ongoing at the Bole Community Health Nurses Training College. However, our checks revealed that the District Assembly is undertaking the construction works ongoing at the school, which is funded by GETFund. The Ministry therefore, will advise that further clarification is sought from the Bole District Assembly.”

This answer by the Minister on the floor of parliament did meet the expectation of the MP and  his colleagues, thereby compelled Agyeman-Manu to promise to go and come back with further and better answers.


Source: Felix Engsalige Nyaaba


The Republic News Online

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