The Minority in Parliament has picked a fight with the Majority over a bill that is expected to establish new Development Authorities, arguing it is a needless duplication.
The Minority chorus on the floor of the House during the debate on the bill is that the new initiative is no different from existing one, Savanna Acceleration Development Authority (SADA).
Led by Haruna Iddrisu, the NDC MPs said the Northern Development Authority (NDA) is a "mere matter of name" because it is the same as SADA.
The NDA is one of three Development Authorities which the NPP vowed to set up to quicken the pace of development.
The NPP also promised to establish the Middle-Belt Development Authority, for the Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, and Eastern Regions; and the Coastal Development Authority for the 4 coastal regions.
The three development authorities will be under the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP) which is expected to receive an annual allocation of $275m.
But the NDA is seen by the Minority as a distinction without a difference. But New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Asante Akim Central constituency, Kwame Ayimadu-Antwi picked out what the Majority say is a distinction from SADA.
The SADA areas comprise the three Northern regions of Ghana namely, Upper East, Upper West and the Northern Region, and stretches to include districts located North of Brong-Ahafo and north of the Volta region.
The MP who is also the Chairman of the Employment Committee of Parliament which reviewed the new bill argued that SADA's geographical boundaries which cover five regions will be reduced to three.
This will then leave the upper part of the Brong Ahafo region and Northern volta in the Volta region will become part of the yet-to-be-established Middle Belt Development Authority.
Pointing to SADA Act 805, the Tamale Central MP and Minority leader Haruna Iddrisu said "if you look at the [new] legislation it is largely a lifting of words of SADA into this new legislation."
Comparing the new bill to SADA, MP for Afadjato South constituency in the Volta region Angela Oforiwa Alorwu-Tay added, "if you go to the objectives of this bill they are all talking about the same thing"
SADA in its preamble is described as "an Act…to provide a framework for the comprehensive and long-term development of the Northern Savannah Ecological Zone"
The idea of SADA was captured in the manifestos of the two rival parties in the 2008 elections. But the NDC won a mandate in that elections and passed the SADA Act in September 2010.
Mr Iddrisu remembered that NPP MP Ambrose Dery during the consideration of the SADA Act agreed that it is needed to address "historical imbalances" in the pace of development between the North and South.
But SADA eventually became a sad story of mismanagement following Joy News investigations. SADA spent GH¢15 million on guinea fowls, but could only account for a few of the birds.
Conceding to the scandalous management of SADA, Mr Iddrisu said "there is a defect in the governance and management processes..which led to the abuse of state resources, unacceptable."
But he insisted, "there is no a defect in the SADA law" to require a new law to do the same programmes and objectives of an existing body.
He referred to Article 106 (2) which demands that all new bills are introduced in Parliament, it must first explain "the defects of the existing law, the remedies proposed to deal with those defects and the necessity for its introduction."
"Where are the defects in the existing law," Mr Iddrisu questioned recommending that instead of a new bureaucracy, what government needs to do is to improve the governance structure.
The Minority Leader said Central Region Development Commission (CEDCOM) for the Central region already exists to do the work envisaged by the Coastal Development Authority.
He said the several development authorities could usurp the work of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).
"It means that every two or three regions will have a Development Authority. How do you situate that with MMDAs?" he wanted to know.
The Tamale Central MP predicted that the MMDAs are going to suffer financially because the government will starve it of funds to favour the needs of the Development Authorities.
The NPP is armed with a strong majority in Parliament, leaving the Minority armed with only arguments.
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