Mr Speaker, in making this contribution, I would want us to bear in mind that as a Parliament, we ought not to continue lamenting, where laws that we have enacted are being violated. By the Constitution, there is established a Consolidated Fund, a Contingency Fund and Parliament can by law establish other public funds.
In establishing these other funds, we make laws to govern their management. But over the past years, I have realised that the Executive have failed to comply with the laws and consistently, and it is not fair to the House or to the people of this country. But moreover, on no single occasion has the President, through his Minister for Finance or any other Minister, given any reason to this House why they have failed to comply.
This is because, Mr Speaker, it is taken for granted that Parliament will talk and talk but nothing will happen. I will want Government to sit up and for this House to exercise its powers. My relatively short experience in governance is that in this
country, people generally believe that if they do not comply with the law, nothing will happen and, it is one of the major afflictions facing our governance in this country. So on this occasion, while contributing to this debate and noting the observations of the Committee on page 5 of the Report, particularly 5 (3), paragraph (2), this should be the last time we should be urging the Hon Minister.
I am inviting this House to bear in mind the powers conferred on this House under the Constitution and for the Hon Minister to take note that he may have some problems, but it is important that he makes this House appreciate those problems and assist him to solve those problems. Mr Speaker, we wield enormous power and when these powers are being exercised, it should not be considered to be personal. It should be considered to be a mechanism by which Parliament wants Government to be alive to its obligations.
Mr Speaker, I will refer this House to a very important article in this Constitution which deals with the power of this House to sanction Ministers. It is important; we can pass a vote of censure at the request of one-third of all Members of Parliament, but it is not something that should be resorted to unless Parliament will want to go to the extremes of exercising its powers. In fact, the Minister for Finance is a very good Friend of mine and I always applaud him for taking his work with Parliament extremely seriously.
At this time, I would like this House to be exercising its power under article 82 of the Constitution. And, Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would want to refer to it in extensor. Article 82 (1) --
“Parliament may, by a resolution supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the members of Parliament, pass a vote of censure on a Minister of State.”
Article 82(2) --
“a motion for the resolution referred to in clause (1) of this article shall not be moved in Parliament unless --
(a) seven days' notice has been given of the Motion, and
(b) the notice for the Motion has been signed by not less than one-third of all the members of Parliament.”
Mr Speaker, I say this because in all democracies in the world, debating a Motion of Censure on anybody is a grave matter. But where exhortation, appeals and urges have failed to elicit effective response, what else is left in the arsenal of Parliament?
So, in conclusion, Mr Speaker, I am urging the Government or, particularly, the President in whom Executive power is vested, to take note of the fact that Government cannot consistently violate laws that we have enacted without any explanation.
We must move forward as a country. So while agreeing with the concerns of the Committee on page 5 of this Report, which is urging the Hon Minister to ensure that all the outstanding payments will be paid in time since the continuous delay is negatively affecting efficient function of these funds, Mr Speaker, I believe that if the Hon Minister does not positively respond to this exhortation or advice, some of us may be compelled, albeit unwillingly, to go to the extreme by inviting this House to exercise its powers under article 82 of the Constitution.
I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Deputy Majority Leader (Mr Alfred K. Agbesi): Mr Speaker, I beg to support the Motion and to urge all Hon Members to do same. Mr Speaker, article 177 of the Constitution, and with your permission, I beg to quote:
“177(1) There shall be paid into the Contingency Fund moneys voted for the purpose by Parliament; and advances may be made from that Fund which are authorised by the committee responsible for financial measures in Parliament whenever that committee is satisfied that there has arisen an urgent or unforeseen need for expenditure for which no other provision exists to meet the need.”
Mr Speaker,the Finance Committee has presented its Report to this House, and on page 5, under Transfers from the Stabilisation Fund, the Committee says that the Committee was informed that the Government intends to use fifty million cedis out of an amount of ninety-six million cedis to set-up the Contingency Fund pursuant to the provision of article 177 of the Constitution.
Mr Speaker, to the best of my knowledge and belief, this is the first time that such a Report from the Finance Committee has urged Members to support Government's intention to pay money into the Contingency Fund. I would want to say that this being so, we have to commend -- This House must commend the Government for taking this step.
Since the 1992 Constitution came into being, this is the first time that an amount is going to be paid into the Contingency Fund and by the provision of the Constitution, the Finance Committee will then be in a position to authorize whenever the condition exists that an amount be used from that Fund to meet a situation and, that situation is an emergency.
Mr Speaker, in this country, we have had several emergencies, and to act immediately to solve the problem depended on whether or not there were funds for that purpose. In this case, if this fund is set up, I will urge the Finance Committee of Parliament to do more to see
to the situation because the Constitution permits us to act when there is an emergency. I would want to say that the Minister for Finance must be commended by this House for bringing this Act on board.
I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.