Mid-year budget: Parliament bars media over coronavirus

Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament
Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament

Media houses will not be allowed to set up improvised studios to cover this year’s mid-year budget review due to the coronavirus, Ghana’s Parliament has disclosed.

The budget-review scheduled for today, Thursday, July 23, 2020, will be presented by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta.

Information from the Public Affairs Unit of Parliament said on Wednesday that the directive is in line with COVID-19 protocols put in place by the House.

Journalists and media houses as part of activities to enhance their coverage of major happenings in parliament such as the reading of the national budgets are allowed on such special occasions to set up makeshift studios in the foyer of the parliamentary chamber.

However, the House believes such an arrangement cannot be granted due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Following the announcement of the first two cases of COVID-19 in Ghana on March 12, 2020, parliament introduced a number of measures aimed at reducing the risk of infection in the house.

Amongst the measures taken are the closure of the public gallery, introduction of sanitary material at vantage areas in the House, and a mass testing program introduced for legislators, parliamentary staff, and members of the parliamentary press corps.

The Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye in addressing the hHouse on Wednesday said all name tags on seats in the chamber will be removed for free-seating of MPs.

He said this is in a bid to ensure social distancing and MPs who do not find space within the chamber are free to observe proceedings on TV in their offices or from the public gallery.

“There will be free-seating in the chamber. All name tags will be removed for tomorrow. Members may only sit on alternative seats such that there may be empty seats between two members,” he said.

He added that visiting members of the public remain banned from the chamber and are encouraged to follow the proceedings in the mass media.

“The protocol that debars visitors to parliament remains in force. The public gallery will not be open to the public,” he noted.

While indicating that social distancing should be observed within the press gallery, he said the House will not countenance crowding or any form of gathering against the COVID-19 protocols. 

Source: Daily Mail GH

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