Saturday, 03 June

'Whether you want it or not, we'll pass e-levy' – Majority Caucus

Parliament got chaotic Monday night

The Majority in Parliament has said it will pass the 1.75 per cent e-levy whether the Minority Caucus likes it not.

“The budget has been approved and the Appropriation Act has also been approved and the Finance Minister can go ahead with his plans, but it is the revenue component of the budget that has to do with the e-levy which hasn’t been approved”, Deputy Majority Chief Whip Habib Iddrisu said.

He added: “So, when we return, the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, will come and preside and we will have our 138 members and they will also have their 137 and we will pass it”.

“The e-levy is something that we will pass whether they want it or not. They should just tell the Speaker to come and preside, and if he cannot, he should tell us then we will find another Speaker”, he noted in an interview with Accra-based Citi FM.

His comments come after Monday night’s brawl on the floor of the house in connection with the passage of the e-levy bill following attempts by First Deputy Speaker Joe Osei-Owusu to cast his ballot on the bill despite presiding over the business of the house on the day.

Following that, Deputy Majority Leader Alexander Afenyo-Markin, told journalists on Monday that: “We will not proceed to take decisions without Mr Speaker. We need him in the House because, by the technicalities of our own procedures, one of our people would have to sit in, and, therefore, he will not have the opportunity to have his right of voting as a member. Mr Speaker must show leadership in parliament”.

However, Deputy Minority Leader, James Klutse Avedzi, told journalists on Tuesday, 21 December 2021, that: “He [Afenyo Markin] said Bagbin’s absence was a deliberate act to frustrate government business. That is a complete lie. It is not true. We all know Bagbin just returned from Dubai where he went for medical treatment, and he must obey the instructions of his doctors”.

“If Bagbin was not showing leadership, he would have reversed the wrongs by the first Deputy Speaker, but for the fact that he wanted the country to move on, he said he will not do anything to overturn the decisions, so, for Afenyo-Markin to say that Bagbin is not showing leadership. is very surprising.”

“He is the only person who has served Parliament for 28 good years. Everybody should disregard the comments from Afenyo-Markin in relation to the leadership style of Bagbin.”

Meanwhile, Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has said Mr Osei-Owusu was excusing himself during Monday night’s sitting to take his medication and go to the washroom but not necessarily to take part in the voting process.

According to Mr Kyei-Menash-Bonsu, the Bekwai MP was not well and, so, needed a respite during the balloting on the floor about whether or not the controversial 1.75 per cent e-levy should be considered under a certificate of urgency.

“Is it the case that a speaker can’t even excuse himself to visit the loo? Is it the case?” Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu asked in an interview with the parliamentary press.

“The man was indisposed”, he noted, adding: “He was shivering”.

“And he went to the clinic; the record is there. So, we had to persuade him to come and sit. He was in the chamber and he was shaking like a leaf.”

“We had to go and prevail on him to come and preside”, the Suame MP stressed.

“Of course”, he pointed out, “if he’s presiding, given his own long tenure in Parliament, his own understanding of the rules and procedures in Parliament, we thought that he’d be able to navigate crises periods, with respect, much more than the second deputy speaker but it was getting too much for him”.

“So, he said he wanted to excuse himself to take his medication and then, perhaps, to come back if he felt okay, or, perhaps, maybe to sit somewhere,” Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said. 

Asked if Mr Osei-Owusu was not excusing himself so he could take part in the voting on the floor, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu retorted: “What if he did? What if he did to take his medication and he came, voting was not over and he thought that because somebody else what presiding he could participate in that? What of that? Is there any illegality in that? There’s no illegality”.