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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

How the showdown went down – All the ‘punches’ you missed from budget approval

Parliament overturns rejection of 2022 budget

Parliament approves 2022 budget

Minority boycotts proceedings leading to approval of budget

Tuesday did not end without some major drama in parliament after majority members overturned a previous decision by minority members in parliament to reject the 2022 budget.

A one-sided minority parliament on Friday, November 26, 2021, voted to reject the approval 2022 government budget and economic policy.

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This was after the majority side in a protest, staged a walkout moment before the speaker put the voting question before the house.

In a summary of events, minority members boycotted the sitting, majority members voted with the first deputy speaker acting as speaker, the budget was overturned and subsequently approved but how did all this go down?

In this piece, GhanaWeb wraps up yesterday’s events in parliament for you:

Parliament reconvenes on Tuesday, November 30, 2021

After the proceedings on Friday, the house reconvened on Tuesday with the expectations that the leadership would have had a prior engagement to work out differences between the two sides and subsequently find a workable way to resolve issues surrounding the budget approval.

Minority’s no show

After commencement of business for the day had delayed several hours on Tuesday, only the majority side walked in to fill their side of the chamber of parliament while the minority side was nowhere to be found.

GhanaWeb’s correspondent in the House however reported sighting the minority members around the parliamentary premises.

Second Deputy Speaker conducts business

Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin was not available to preside over business of the House on Tuesday as he had travelled to India over the weekend for medical attention.

In his stead, the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu presided over proceedings.

Majority Leader moves for budget rejection to be overturned

The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu moved a motion for the house to reverse the rejection of the budget, stating that the process leading to the rejection contravened the dictates of the constitution.

According to the majority leader, the one-sided minority number of 137 MPs that voted to reject the budget, did not meet the mandated half of the 275 MPs needed to commence voting.

In the words of the majority leader, the voting process to reject the budget did not meet the “acid test” of the constitution in terms of processes guiding such exercise in the House.

Deputy Speaker adds himself to number of MPs to form a quorum

Admitting the majority leader’s motion to a vote, the second deputy speaker, quoting the constitution said his addition to the remaining 137 majority MPs meant that the house had formed a quorum and could go ahead to conduct a vote.

“My attention has been drawn to the record, page 10 of the Votes and Proceedings of Friday, which showed that the confirmed number 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 of Parliament”, he said.

He noted: “Article 104 and our standing order clearly spell 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 if his attention was drawn to it”.

“The consequence of this unfortunate error is that it is void and inconsequential since it was done in violation of Article 104 (1) of the constitution.”

The motion to overturn the budget rejection was thus put to a vote and the all-majority side present in the house voted in favour of the motion.

Finance Minister addresses house and moves for approval of the budget

The Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori Atta, after the speaker had ruled that the budget rejection had been overturned, was called to address the house.

The finance minister in his address among other things noted that government is in talks with telecommunication companies over the proposed Electronic Transactions Levy (E-levy) which has been one of the concerns of the minority.

“We have considered the issues of the 1.75% e-levy in which we are in discussions with the telcos and to scale back to moderate their impact so that in the end, the impact on the citizenry will be manageable,” Ken Ofori-Atta told the MPs.

He concluded his address by moving for the house to pass an approval vote on the budget.

House approves 2022 budget and economic policy

The speaker after the presentation of the finance minister put the question for the approval of the budget to the floor and the all-majority side by voice vote approved the budget.

Minority reacts to budget approval

In a later press conference addressed by its leader, Haruna Iddrisu, the minority side stated that they deliberately stayed out of the proceedings on Tuesday as a result of the government’s refusal to heed to their demands on the budget.

The minority leader further challenged the decision by the first deputy speaker to count himself as part of the MPs saying an MP leading business of the house cannot be counted in deciding a quorum for the house.

“The Majority say they respect the Constitution and the standing orders of the house. Today, I am particularly disappointed in the conduct of the First Deputy Speaker having to include himself and to exercise himself in order to meet their mandatory defined 138 without recourse or respect to the standing orders and the 1992 Constitution; standing order 109 is on voting”, Mr. Iddrisu complained to journalists right after the passage of the budget.

Parliament reconvenes today:

Meanwhile, the house is sitting today, to continue business as mandated by the constitution.

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