Comic relief in parliament as finance minister reads 2018 Budget

General News of Thursday, 16 November 2017



Minority BudgetMembers of NDC Minority MPs’ displaying placards after the budget hearing

As expected, there were dramatic activities in the chamber of Parliament on Wednesday when the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, presented the 2018 Budget and Economic Policy.

Mr. Ken Ofori Atta arrived in Ghana’s Parliament House wearing his white caftan, which has been his trademark. With a black pair of shoes, spectacles and a necklace to match.

He held a brown briefcase that contained the budget document.

After exchanging pleasantries with some Ministers of State and MPs on the Majority side, Mr. Ofori-Atta moved to the Minority side to shake hands with them.

He was seen exchanging pleasantries and smiling with the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, Deputy Minority Leader, James Avedzi, the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee and Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson, and others.

The MPs were smartly dressed in traditional and formal attire for the presentation of the budget.

During the presentation, while the Majority MPs urged the Minister on, the NDC Minority MPs interjected intermittently to dispute some of the figures he presented.

The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, had to step in occasionally to call the MPs to order with calls of “Order!!!! Order!!!!”

At a point, the Speaker had to point out that only one person was entitled to speak on the floor of Parliament at a time.

He, therefore, asked the Minority MPs to allow the minister to proceed with his presentation, as they would also have their turn to speak.

In the course of the presentation, some Minority MPs waved sheets of paper with the inscriptions: “Wahala” (Hausa for hardship or suffering) and “419” (The name “419” was derived from a section of Nigerian law that con artistry and fraud comes under.)

“419” is an advance-fee scam a form of fraud and one of the most common types of confidence trick. The scam typically involves promising the victim a significant share of a large sum of money, in return for a small up-front payment, which the fraudster requires in order to obtain the large sum. If a victim makes the payment, the fraudster either invents a series of further fees for the victim, or simply disappears.

Nigeria is most often the nation referred to in these scams.”

On seeing the ‘419’ inscriptions, Mr Ofori-Atta wittingly quoted Philippians 4:19, which reads: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus”, amid laughter and applause.

The Majority MPs also had an Akan song for the Minority MPs, suggesting that they were happy with the presentation and that it irked the Minority in Parliament.

And as soon as the Finance Minister finished his about two-and-a-half-hour presentation, virtually all the Minority MPs waved the “Wahala” and “419” inscriptions.

They then began singing “2020 we go show Nana”, meaning that they would vote out President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in 2020.

But the Majority MPs responded with their own version: “2020 we go vote Nana”, which implied that they would vote for President Akufo-Addo in 2020.

The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia; the Chief of Staff, Mrs Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, and some Ministers of State were present at the presentation.

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