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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Debating and passing STX deal will be unconstitutional-Minority

The Minority in Parliament is questioning the legality of debating and possibly passing the controversial STX deal when a writ has been filed at the Supreme Court.

The Convention People’s Party youth organizer Kwabena Bonfeh filed the writ on Monday seeking interpretation on international transactions with specific reference to the STX deal.

He contends that the House cannot proceed to pass the $1.5 billion Suppliers Credit Agreement of the deal when two major agreements -Joint Venture agreement as well as the Off-Taker agreement both of which are integral in the $10 billion STX deal have not been laid before Parliament.

Having raised issues of cost and feasibility of implementing the STX deal in the past, the minority appear to have gotten yet another arsenal – the court suit to hang on and to raise another objection to the housing deal.

Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Prof Mike Ocquaye vehemently argued on the floor of Parliament, that the House will be committing an illegality if it continued with the debate on the STX.

According to him, Parliament is subject to the constitution and must not be seen to be flouting the laws of the country.

“The Parliament of this country is not sovereign; the Parliament of the Republic Ghana is subject to the constitution, “ he stated.

“The Parliament in its function is subject to the constitution and it is only the Supreme Court which is given that power under article 127 following to interpret the law and in fact the capacity to set aside and declare as unconstitutional whatever Parliament does,” he argued.

“The Parliament of Ghana cannot engage in unconstitutionality and go away with it,” he warned.

But the majority insists Parliament is an independent institution and has the power to take its own decisions.

MP for Nabdam, Moses Asaga had early on told Joy FM’s Sammy Darko in an interview the House can and will go ahead to debate the STX deal, the Supreme Court writ notwithstanding.

He contended that there had been precedents in which the House had gone ahead to pass bills into law even when there were suits filed at the law court.

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Doe Adjaho who was presiding on Tuesday early on declined a proposition to defer the suit case to the privileges committee.

He insisted, in spite of protestations by the minority, that he would not defer the suit to the Privileges Committee- the disciplinary arm of Parliament, adding, he as the acting Speaker had the power under order 27 and 31 to do so.

With Parliament scheduled to rise today, the majority is racing against time to have the deal passed into law.

Story by Nathan Gadugah/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

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