Emmanuel Kofi Buah, Minister of Energy

About 30 minutes of unexpected power outage in Parliament yesterday at about 1:40pm forced proceedings to be suspended temporarily when members were busily debating on the estimates for the various ministries, agencies and departments.

Parliament had a busy business yesterday to look at the budget estimates for the Ministry of Information and Media Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, the Office of Government Machinery, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), the Public Services Commission, the Audit Service, the National Labour Commission and the National Development Planning Commission alongside the consideration of the Export Trade, Agricultural and Industrial Development Fund Bill (2013). However, the temporary power outage significantly affected the business of the house compelling most MPs to go for committee meetings.

Some of the Minority members of Parliament described the unfortunate power outage as ?budget light off?.

Under normal circumstances, anytime there was power outage, the power plant in Parliament automatically came on to give power to the house but this time round when the power cut occurred, the generator did not work, prompting some MPs and workers of Parliament to speculate that there was either no fuel to power the generator or there was a genuine problem with the plant which needed immediate attention.

The Minority Chief Whip and New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Okere, Dan Botwe, told DAILY GUIDE that it was strange that this could happen to Parliament at a time the House had a lot of business to do before rising on December 18.

?I find this strange because, we have a plant and whenever there is a power outage from the national grid, the plant comes on automatically?.

Before the power outage, the house had approved of the budget estimates for the Ministry of Information and Media Relations (GH?100,120,293), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration (GH?153,953,029), the Labour Commission (GH?2,378,174) and the National Development Planning Commission (GH?6,548,479).

In moving the motion for the approval of the estimates for the Ministry of Information and Media Relations, the sector minister, Mahama Ayariga said one of the core functions of the ministry next year was to build the capacity of media practitioners to be able to disseminate accurate and developmental information to members of the public.

He said the media fund set up by the government last year was in the right direction and that this time round a board of trustees was going to put in place to ensure the fund was judiciously and equitably utilised.

The Minister said it had given the go ahead to the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) to establish University of Broadcasting so that it could help give professional training to many broadcast journalists working with the many private electronic media houses springing up.

He said the university could also help the state broadcaster to internally generate funds for its operations.

He however gave the assurance that the state would continue to support state media houses, especially GBC, because of its strategic importance in the dissemination of information to Ghanaians across the country, even though the Parliamentary Select Committee on Communications which has oversight responsibility over the Ministry of Information had expressed concern in its report on the budgetary estimates that GBC was doing very little to generate funds internally to support its operations.

The committee said the Ghana News Agency (GNA) was able to implement some innovative programmes to generate GH?48,354 into government chest but a big corporate organisation like GBC could not generate anything for the government.

The committee noted that some employees of GBC were being paid for nothing.

The committee therefore charged the GBC to devise a viable business plan and present it to the committee for its consideration and asked it to be innovative enough to wean itself of government subvention.

?If GNA which got almost nothing from government and does not retain any of its internally generated funds, is able to device innovative ways to survive and put something in the national kitty, then GBC has no excuse whatsoever not to do same or even more,? the committee said in its budgetary estimates report.

The Members of Parliament including the MP for Suhum, Frederick Opare-Ansah; MP for Ablekuma West, Ursula Owusu and A.B.A. Fuseini, NDC MP for Sagnarigu overwhelmingly supported the motion for the approval of the estimates for the Ministry of Information and Media Relations.

By Thomas Fosu Jnr


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