Speaker of Parliament, Prof Aaron Mike Oquaye has ruled out any possibility of the legislature shutting down as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although many institutions including the Ministry of Finance and COCOBOD have had to halt operations as a result of staff testing positive for Covid-19, Parliament which recorded its first cases months ago continues to sit.
“We all know that Parliament is not like all other places that you can easily and simply say you have suspended or closed down,” Speaker Prof Mike Oquaye told the house on Friday, July 10.
His comment follows calls by some MPs and health experts over fears that the House might record a spike in cases if it continues to operate.
But speaking on the floor, Prof Oquaye said another disinfection exercise will be carried out in the Chamber on Monday July 13, to mitigate the fears of members.
“The chamber was fumigated and this will be done again on Monday dawn for the house to sit. That will be going on for our safety and security.
“So as for Parliament please let us know that we are in a very peculiar situation. In fact, government knows that Parliament can operate in case of emergency; separately and individually.
“Parliament is Parliament, so let us also be very careful on how to manage protocol and matters concerning us because it looks like we might be the last stop otherwise there is no country. We are in a very critical situation and we must accept it as such and operate as such.”
The Speaker further explained that the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta is expected in the house for the presentation of the mid-year budget review, which makes a halt in activities impossible.
“Very soon the honorable Minister of Finance is going to read the substantive budget. If parliament doesn’t sit, the country will shut down. There will be no money, it is as simple as that.”
Prof Mike Oquaye also used the opportunity to chastise Members of Parliament still engaging services of staff who have been asked to stay home.
He said, any legislature seen or reported breaking any directive put in place to ensure the safety of people in the House would be disciple.
“One thing is that our experts continue to tell us that this matter is also about movement. I have been advised that a few people have broken the instruction. Some staff insists on coming to the house and one person said his honorable member told him to come.
“Honorable members, this is the last warning. If any person engages a staff by way of research assistant and all those people who have been asked to stay at home, that person will be disciplined. When that happens nobody should come and plead for anyone. Let us also remember that if any honorable member sees any stranger on his or her floor and accommodates that kind of thing, you are helping the spread of the virus.”