Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye has directed that the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection be brought to his office when she returns from a conference.
The Minister, Cynthia Mamle Morrison was scheduled to respond to Parliamentary questions on Tuesday 11th February 2020 but was absent during question time.
Majority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu explained to the House that the Minister was outside the jurisdiction attending a conference in the United States and has requested the questions to be rescheduled after the 21st of February.
The leader indicated that the Chief of Staff might have granted the Minister permission to attend the United Nations Commission for Social Development Programme following discussion with her on the need for Ministers not to travel outside the country or those who do should return by the 18th of February and be in the House for the State of the Nation of Address (SONA).
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is expected to address Parliament on the State of the Nation on 20th February, 2020 and Speaker Mike Oquaye is anxious to have a full House when the President visits.
Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu took strong exception to the excuse and stressed that there has been an explicit directive from the Speaker of the House that MP Ministers should not travel out of the country before February 20 in order to be present in Parliament for the SONA.
According to him, it is inappropriate that when the Speaker has given directives that members should not travel in order to honour the SONA, a Chief of Staff grants permission for a minister to travel.
He wondered whose weight and ruling the House should go with adding, “Mr. Speaker I will go for yours,” he stated.
“You are the Speaker of Parliament and under the Standing Orders whether that Minister is recognized as absent or not with permission. In that circumstance that Member of Parliament Minister may not have had your authorized permission,” he said.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, however, argued that the President also holds sway over Ministers but stressed that when the Speaker made the determination on the travels, this might not have been communicated to the Minister on time but the proper thing will be done.
Speaker Mike Oquaye, however, indicated that the issue has been put before the House and directed the Majority leader to ensure he brings the Minister to his office when she returns from her journey.