The Majority Caucus in Parliament has called on Ghanaians to disregard the move by the Minority side of Parliament on 26 November 2021 to reject the government’s 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy, presented to the House by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta on the authority of the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
In a statement issued after the proceedings in Parliament on 26 November, the Majority Caucus said it “hereby notifies the Ghanaian public to kindly disregard the decision by Speaker Alban Bagbin, that 137 Members of Parliament have the power to take a decision for Parliament and have consequently rejected the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana”.
The statement continues: “Article 104 of the 1992 Constitution and Order 109 of the Standing Orders of Parliament are very clear. The two provisions, read together, require that at least 138 MPs needed to have been present in the Chamber at the time of the purported vote.
“Therefore, the claim that the Budget has been rejected by 137 Members of the House is null, void and of no effect because same is unconstitutional,” the statement from the Majority says.
Respect the constitution
The Majority Caucus further says it finds it “unfortunate that after making requests to the Finance Minister to reconsider some items in the Budget Statement, the Minority Caucus, assisted by Speaker Bagbin, who had earlier indicated his ability to obstruct government business, refused to give the Finance Minister an opportunity to accommodate their requests and instead hurriedly moved to on their own attempt to vote against the Budget in a bid to subject the Government of Ghana to embarrassment for mere partisan reasons”.
“For the record, the act of the Minority and the decision of the Speaker to endorse it, constitute an unconstitutionality and an illegality and should be disregarded, as same is void and of no effect whatsoever.
“We assure the good people of Ghana of our resolute willingness to ensure that the 1992 constitution is respected to the letter by Speaker Bagbin and the Minority,” the statement concludes.
Developments in Parliament
The Minority side of the eighth parliament (137 out of the total of 275 members), acting on it own, voted to reject the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the government late on Friday 26 November 2021.
Before the rejection, the Minister for Finance appeared in the House with a request, or prayer, asking Parliament to suspend the approval process for the Budget to give the executive an opportunity to engage the parliamentary leadership over the introduction of the electronic transactions levy (E-Levy) outlined in the 2022 Budget Statement.
After the Finance Minister made his prayer, the Speaker subjected it to a voice vote and ruled that those against the prayer had prevailed over those in favour of the prayer.
The Majority side, speaking through the Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo- Markin, opposed the Speakers ruling and asked for the vote over the Finance Minister’s request to be taken again through the tallying process known as division.
Ahead of the “division”, the Minority side demanded that the Finance Minister – who is not a Member of Parliament but who has authority under the 1992 constitution to participate in parliamentary processes – step out of the chamber before the vote was carried out.
Upon the departure of the Finance Minister, the Majority side demanded that the general secretary of the National Democratic Congress, Johnson Aseidu Nketiah, who was seated in the Public Gallery of Parliament, should also leave the chamber before the vote was retaken.
The Majority side then staged a walkout after the NDC general secretary refused to leave the Public Gallery of the chamber.
After a short suspension of sitting, the Speaker resumed to continue with the business of the House without the Majority caucus.
Putting the question for approval of the 2022 Budget to a voice vote of the half-empty chamber, the Speaker ruled that: “Clearly, the No’s have it. The motion is accordingly lost.”