The Majority in Parliament is demanding an apology from the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) government for overspending its 2016 budget by GHC8 billion.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Members of Parliament (MP) said former President John Mahama’s government broke the Appropriation Act (2016) when it spent over GHC51 billion instead of the approved GHC43 billion.
Ayawaso West Wuogon NPP MP, Emmanuel Agyarko, who made the claim on the floor of the House Tuesday described recent outcry by NDC MPs over government’s 2017 budgetary allocation to the presidency as misguided.
“If you look at the total expenditure with the revised version, it came out with GHC43 billion, but it [NDC government] spent well over GHC51 billion,” he told Evans Mensah on Joy FM’s Top Story.
Parliament approved, under a certificate of urgency, the Appropriation Act for the 2016 fiscal year committing GH₵50,109,851,734.00 from the Consolidated Fund for government to carry out its financial obligations for the year.
Out of the GH₵50.1 billion, GH₵14 billion was earmarked for wages and salaries, pensions, gratuities and social security.
Mr Agyarko said available documents before the House showed the previous government outspent its budget by whooping GH₵8 billion without Parliamentary approval.
Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin
But former Deputy Finance Minister, Casiel Ato Forson, described the NPP MP’s claim as unsound and without any basis.
“I can say on authority that as a deputy Minister of Finance, the then administration never broke the appropriation Act,” he said. “We stayed within the appropriations Act.”
The Ajumako Enyan Essiam MP said the expenditure Mr Agyarko is making reference to has to do with commitment of the previous government and not cash spent.
“The appropriation is on cash bases so you cannot compare the two and draw the conclusion that we broke the law,” he offered.
Meanwhile, second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has appealed to his colleagues to collaborate to put an end to the practice of governments overspending their budget.
“The issue that the MP for Ayawaso is raising is that over the years, we have allowed governments to spend beyond what we approve in the Appropriation Act. So we need to look at it as a House,” he said.
He explained that if at any time any government needs to overspend its budget, Parliament has to be notified for an additional money to be approved for it.
“We need to look at this as a House if not that it is eroding the authority of the House,” he added.