Ghana: Parliament Reschedules Thursday for Decision On Budget

4 December 2023

Parliament has scheduled the approval or otherwise of the 2024 budget statement and economic policy of government for Thursday, December 7, 2023.

Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, in Accra last Thursday told lawmakers that contrary to claims that the budget had been approved, the document was still under consideration before the House.

"I direct that the Business Committee reschedules the issue for next week for us to finally take a decision on the budget.

"The budget statement and economic policy of the government for the year 2024 is still before the House," he stated.

The directive was in response to a prayer made to the Speaker by the Minority Leader and MP for Ajumako/Enyan/ Esiam, Dr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, for the Speaker to rule on whether or not the budget had been approved.

The Speaker's clarification comes in the wake of claims by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, that the budget had been approved and that he would go ahead to spend from the Consolidated Fund if finality was not brought to the matter.

Dr Forson said it was important the Speaker ruled on the matter to correct what he said was the erroneous impression that the budget had been approved, an impression he said sent the wrong signal to stakeholders.

"Mr Speaker, I urge you to set the record straight. There is a lot of confusion out there because the impression has been created that the budget has been approved whilst we in this House know for sure that the budget is hanging," Dr Ato Forson prayed the Speaker.

But Majority Leader and MP for Suame, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, held that records of the House bore his caucus out that indeed the budget had been approved barring any further development.

He backed that assertion by referencing to the votes and proceedings of the House for Wednesday which stated that the question was put and in the opinion of the Chair, motion (to approve budget) agreed to; prompting a challenge by the minority.

"Your own votes and proceedings indicates to you that the question was put and in the opinion of the Speaker, the motion was agreed to.

"Subsequent to that, we are told that a headcount was sought by the Deputy Minority Leader. That request (for a headcount) is the one that is hanging and not the budget," he stated.

The approval of the budget on Wednesday was truncated after the Majority caucus staged a walk-out following a disagreement with the Speaker over the application of the rules of the House.

The Minority, pursuant to Standing Order 113(2), challenged the opinion of the Speaker that the "ayes" had it when he put the question to a voice vote.

The Speaker granted the request in line with the provision and set in motion processes for the headcount when the Majority stormed out of the chamber after the Speaker indicated that each member would be called out and counted.

That decision, the Majority Leader argued, constituted a division and not the headcount as sought by the Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah.

Though the headcount was programmed for Thursday, it could not materialise as only four Majority caucus members - the Majority leader, his deputy, the Majority chief whip and his second deputy - were

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