Ghana: Budget Approval Brouhaha - I'll Spend From Consolidated Fund If Disagreement Is Not Resolved - Finance Minister

30 November 2023

The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has given indication that he would go ahead and spend from the consolidated fund if the disagreement between the Majority and Minority caucuses in relation to the approval of the 2024 budget statement and economic policy of government is not resolved.

According to him, as things stand, the budget had been approved and therefore, has the legal backing to spend from the consolidated fund and other statutory sources on government programmes and policies.

"We just witnessed a situation where the majority and minority leaders gave their closing statements on the budget and at the end of the day, the Speaker put it to vote and declared that the yes have it.

"That means that the budget, in my view, has been passed and later there was a challenge which has not been resolved. So as far as I know and believe, we have the 2024 budget approved until such time that they resolve whatever they have to resolve.

"We all heard the Speaker clearly state after the voice declaration that the yes have it. That is where I stand and I am pleased that the people of Ghana have a budget," Mr Ofori-Atta said.

Asked specifically if he would withdraw from the consolidated fund if the disagreements were not resolved, he said "I am going into the consolidated fund because the yes have it".

He gave this indication in an engagement with parliamentary reporters after the approval process was disrupted by a walk-out staged by the Majority caucus.

But the Minority insists the document had not been approved and that it was "hanging".

"Everyone knows that the NDC Members of Parliament were ready to vote against the budget for a very good reason.

"We outlined as part of our concluding remark why we are against this budget. We cannot allow this budget to go through in its current form because the ordinary Ghanaian will be the one to suffer.

"The Speaker has adjourned the House but our motion is still in place. We are challenging the voice vote."

"The speaker has ruled and the majority is aware that when the Speaker makes a pronouncement, they can only challenge that with a substantive motion, so as we speak, the budget has not been approved. Let everyone be aware," Minority Leader, Dr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson told reporters.

In his view, their colleagues in the majority staged the walk-out to buy time because they did not have the numbers.

He cited three members, Mavis Boadu Nkansah, MP, Afigya Sekyere East; Dr John Kumah, Ejisu and Kennedy Agyapong, Assin Central, amongst others, were out of the jurisdiction.

The budget approval process was truncated yesterday after the Majority staged a walk-out following a challenge to the Speaker's opinion that the Majority had carried the day.

The challenge was staged by the Deputy Majority Leader and MP for Ellembelle, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, under Standing Order 113 (2) which states that "a Member may call for headcount or division if the opinion of Mr Speaker on the voice vote is challenged".

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