The Member of Parliament for Adansi Asokwa, K.T. Hammond has asked Parliament to use any means possible to get the Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta to review upwards budgetary allocations made to the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s Department.
The MP is unhappy with a ¢135 million approved for the Ministry on Tuesday. He described the amount as low, one that will not help the Ministry deliver on its mandate.
“The point is that this House should make sure that the Finance Minister listens. We should go as far as trying to blackmail the Finance Minister.
“We should go to the point of saying that if the Finance Minister will not look after the Ministry of Justice then we would also not look after the Ministry of Finance,” he added.
The A-G Gloria Akuffo earlier this year complained of the lack of funds to address challenges at her Department. These challenges she noted during a tour of the Department’s offices in the Eastern region include staffing and accommodation.
“We have challenges with staffing, office space, residential accommodation, office equipment and reports and even administrative staff is a challenge but there may be slight differences in terms of priorities. What may be a real challenge in Wa, may not be a challenge at Ho so I have asked them to put together their needs in the form of a report and I am going to be collating a national report on the office of the Attorney General and its departments and agencies with the view of prioritizing them and looking for funds to begin to solve some of these problems,” she said.
She is not alone in the demands. The Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo has expressed her anger at successive governments for not placing priority on the judiciary in terms of funding.
She said the adjudicatory arm of government is usually relegated to the background with considerations for funding usually being treated as an afterthought.
The Chief Justice called for adequate funding for the judiciary, given the critical role it plays in society.
Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta
It appears Mr Hammond agrees with them. He complained about the trend where continuously, the Department is given lesser funds to operate with.
He said last year, only ¢12 million for capital expenditure was allocated to the Office, complaints were made but were ignored only for the amount to be slashed to ¢7 million.
“Last year they were given only ¢70 million out of ¢120 million. Please take serious notice of what is going on in the A-G’s office.”
Mr Hammond says the Department deserves more than they are getting because it coordinates all government’s legal work.
But as Joseph Opoku Gakpo reports, the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu did not agree with the manner in which the call was made.
In his view, the Finance Minister could be prompted without threats as has been suggested by the MP.
“I think that is totally out of the way and indeed in breach of our orders. That is a threat that he is issuing to the Finance Minister and our orders, order 30 (1) forbids the issuance of threats.”