The Parliament of Ghana is set to vote on the Electronic Transfer Levy bill popularly known as the E-levy today, Tuesday, December 21, 2021 after the voting procedure was adjourned yesterday over Parliamentary misunderstandings.
The voting decision on the E-levy which is scheduled to take place at 9:00 am today, comes after the Majority and Minority members broke into a fight on the floor yester night over presiding issues as the main Speaker of Parliament was absent to preside over the parliamentary voting proceedings.
During the live proceedings on the floor of Parliament yesterday December, 20, 2021, the first Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Wusu who was the sit- in Speaker declared his right to vote in his capacity as a Member of Parliament after he announced that a division will be followed to approve the Bill, presented under a certificate of urgency.
As a result of the first deputy Speakers’s decision, the second Deputy Speaker had to assume the seat of the first Deputy Speaker which didn’t sit well with the minority caucus of the House who moved to the front of the dais, issuing threats at the Bekwai MP.
This got the Majority MPs to also start agitating immediately Mr. Osei-Owusu handed the presiding role to the Second Deputy Speaker, Andrew Amoako Asiamah, and as result, the minority disagreed and a fight broke out which saw fisticuffs between Ghana’s lawmakers.
Speaker’s absence from Parliament
Prior to the fight, the Majority in Parliament accused the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, of supporting an agenda of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to “frustrate” and “obstruct” business of the Akufo-Addo-led government.
According to Alexander Afenyo Markin, the Speaker’s absence appeared to be part of a plan by the minority in ensuring the E-levy bill is not approved.
The Deputy Majority Leader indicated that his caucus’s leadership did not know the whereabouts of Speaker Bagbin as of the evening of Monday, December 20 when they expected him to preside over proceedings on the Electronic Transfer Levy Bill.
The Bill was brought before plenary under a certificate of urgency despite a strong resistance by the Minority members on the Finance Committee. The Majority group in Parliament, prior to the debate on the controversial e-levy bill currently before Parliament, anticipated the debate to end up in votes and therefore demanded the return of the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin to chair the proceedings.
According to Afenyo-Markin, the Majority suspected that the Speaker, who returned to Ghana on Tuesday, December 14, 2021 from a medical review in the United Arabs Emirates (UAE), deliberately absented himself from Monday’s proceedings to reduce the number of the Majority during voting on the Bill.
Mr Afenyo-Markin, the MP for Effutu stated that the Majority was given “a raw deal” since they still didn’t know the whereabouts of the Speaker. According to the caucus, the absence of Bagbin is what forced the second deputy speaker, Andrews Amoako Asiamah to preside over the sitting which indicated a possible loss of one vote for them.