Ghana Politics

Bagbin erred, budget rejection has no effect – Deputy Speaker rules

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The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei Owusu, has declared as null and void Parliament’s rejection of the government’s 2022 budget and economic policy statement last Friday.

According to the sit-in Speaker of Parliament, the rejection of the budget statement by 137 minority members was unconstitutional, and that the Speaker, Alban Bagbin, erred in his ruling.

Joseph Osei Owusu based his ruling on Tuesday on Article 104 of the 1992 constitution, which forbids parliament from taking certain decisions until it has half of the number of MPs present in the chamber.

“My attention has been drawn to the record, page 10 of the Votes and Proceedings of Friday which showed that the confirmed numbers of the Members of Parliament at the time the question was presented was less than half of the Members of Parliament. Records show that 137 members were present. That is less than half of the full members Parlament. Article 104 and our standing order clearly spells out the process of decision making in the house. It clearly states that a question shall not be put on any matter unless at least half of the members are present in Parliament.”

“The Speaker appeared not to have paid attention to the Constitution and procedural provision. I’m certain that given his expertise, he would not have made this error of his attention was drawn to it. The consequence of the unfortunate error is that Putting of the question of the budget into consideration and the question on the budget statement and economic policy was done in violation of Article of the constitution an therefore, void and inconsequential.”

This turn of events on Tuesday happened without the presence of the Minority members who boycotted the sitting, just as their colleagues did last Friday.

Although the reasons for their absence in Parliament are sketchy, Citi News understands that the Minority MPs refused to be in the chamber because they and their counterparts on the Majority side could not arrive at a consensus on requests for some amendments to be made to the 2022 budget.

“We clearly agreed that Parliament would sit at 3:30 pm after having lunch. But it’s a pity they are not here,” the Second Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu, who chaired the sitting, said.

A headcount by the Clerk of Parliament showed that there were 138 Members of Parliament on Tuesday including the acting Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei- Owusu present.

The two caucuses had been in meetings since Tuesday morning discussing options available in relation to the rejection or otherwise of the 2022 budget.

The Majority Caucus had insisted that the rejection of the budget by the Minority Caucus was unconstitutional and had no binding effect.

On Friday, November 26, the Minority Caucus voted to reject the budget after the Majority Caucus staged a walkout.

However, the Majority Caucus later asked Ghanaians to disregard the supposed rejection of the budget as it was unconstitutional.

A statement from the Majority said: “For the record, the acts 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”.

But the Minority believes the rejection of the budget still stands.

In a statement, the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, called on the Finance Minister to revise the 2022 budget and re-present the document.

He said the revised document must come without the e-levy and the Agyapa royalties deal.

He also demanded that the revised budget capture the construction of the Blekusu sea defense project, among others.

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