THE plea by the Majority leader in Parliament, Cletus Avoka for Parliament to extend its sittings to August 3, instead of the scheduled date of July 22 was met with disagreement by the Minority caucus on Friday.
Invoking standing order 42(1) of the house for the Speaker’s consideration, Mr Avoka explained that the extension of date was to enable the house to consider the Petroleum and Exploration, Petroleum Management Bills and the Amendment of the National Health Insurance Bill to address critical issues bedeviling the scheme.
The Majority leader added that the country was due to start commercial oil production in the third quarter of the year and the two petroleum bills were important to provide the legal framework for the production to commence.
Standing Order 42(1) of the proceedings of Parliament states “The Speaker shall be responsible for fixing, after consultation with the house, the time when a sitting should be adjourned sine die or to a particular day or to an hour or part of the same day.”
The Minority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said the two Petroleum bills were not “any ordinary bills” and the house needed enough time to do due diligence on them.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu expressed doubt about whether the one week extension could add any value in the consideration of the bills.
He said he had articulated the need for the executive to bring the bills early before Parliament for consideration and approval but all had “fallen on deaf ears”.
Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, (NPP-New Juben North), expressed the need for the government to harmonise its business with the schedule of Parliament to avoid inconveniences.
He was of the opinion that extending the date of Parliament rising to August 3 would affect the impending congress of the New Patriotic Party slated for August 7 to elect their Presidential candidate.
Dr Anthony Osei Akoto, (NPP-Old Tafo) and former Minister of State at the Finance Ministry, said the government knew two year ago about the scheduled date for oil production and wondered why the bills to provide the legal framework for commencement of production were yet to be presented to Parliament for consideration.
The Speaker, Joyce Bamford-Addo differed her ruling on the matter to the subsequent sitting of the house.
The Deputy Minister of Roads and Highways, Dr. Nii Oakley Quaye-Kumah, appeared before the house to answer questions relating to the Ministry on behalf of the Minister, Joe Gidisu.
He said new traffic signals shall be replicated throughout the country following successful implementation of those in Accra.