Frank Annoh-Dompreh, Majority Chief Whip in Parliament, has stated that Speaker Alban Bagbin’s directive to the Roads and Highways Minister to reverse the cessation of the collection of road tolls is an error.
According to him, Kwasi Amoako-Atta acted rightly by directing the cessation of payment of road tolls and insists the Speaker does not have the “persona” to give such an order (of resumption of toll collection) as though that was the official position of Parliament.
“Based on standards and the standing orders of the House, the Speaker cannot rule on his own authority and say that he is directing. The Speaker is not above the House, he is not a Member of Parliament, so the Speaker’s ruling is to convey the position of the house. So to start, we think that the Speaker erred in his ruling and he should consider it again”, he told the media.
“We think that the Minister acted in good faith and when you heard the First Deputy Speaker who says that we are the makers of the law, the Executive enforces the law. So probably I’m just having a guess, the Speaker should have probably made a referral and then whichever Committee, reasonably in this context, maybe the Roads Committee would have engaged the Minister further, and then things would have come up more for us to appreciate,” the Nsawam Adoagyiri MP explained.
Frank Annoh-Dompreh’s comment comes after the Speaker asked the Minister to withdraw his directive for the immediate cessation of the collection of tolls on public roads.
The Roads Minister, Kwasi Amoako Attah called for an immediate halt in the collection of road tolls after the Finance Minister announced the abolishment of same in the 2022 budget in Parliament.
After several deliberations in the House on Thursday, the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin directed the Roads Minister to withdraw the directive.
“It is a proposal they are presenting to us to approve to take effect January 2022. And so until this budget is approved, all that is contained in the budget are proposals. We have the authority to approve.
“They have been given the authority in pursuant to Article 179 to prepare and lay before the House. So those are policy proposals that the minister has presented to the House. Until they are approved, nobody has the authority to start implementing something that doesn’t exist. That amounts to a disrespect of the House,” a statement from the speaker noted.
Alban Bagbin warned that the failure of the Minister to heed the order would put him in contempt of Parliament, but the MP argued that the Speaker must take a second look at his order to avoid any further action from his colleague MPs.
“We are also aware of the options that are available to us if we want to challenge the Speaker – we come by a motion, but we want to put on record that the Speaker erred because the Minister acted in good faith,” he said.