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Sunday, February 25, 2024

We’ll kick against budget approval again today

The Minority in Parliament has threatened to kick against the approval of the 2024 budget again today.

The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, declared a voice vote in favour of the majority on the approval of the economic policy and budget statement presented by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta to the house on Wednesday.

However, the Minority opted for a headcount, forcing the Majority caucus to stage a walkout on the approval process.

Addressing journalists, the Minority Leader, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson, said the 2024 budget was still hanging, and its approval would once again be defeated today.

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, and the Majority in Parliament insist that the 2024 budget was passed following the declaration of the voice vote by the Speaker, Alban Bagbin, despite the Minority’s position that the 2024 budget and economic statement have not been passed.

Addressing journalists after the walkout by the Majority, the Finance Minister said, “At the end of the day, the Speaker put it to vote twice, and he declared that the ‘ayes’ have it. That means the budget, in my view, has been passed. Later, there was a challenge, which has not been resolved. So far as I know and believe, we have the 2024 budget passed until such time that they resolve whatever they want to resolve.”

The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who expressed fury about the Speaker’s actions, pointed out, “You were all there; you heard the Speaker loud and clear. Why should a Speaker beat such a hasty retreat from what he has said? In this case, he said the ‘ayes’ have it. Then you have the Speaker making a sudden U-turn that he didn’t add that the ‘ayes’ have it. He just expressed an opinion. And that’s most unfortunate. So, we think that the proper thing should be done.”

“We agreed to the headcount; what was he waiting for? For about 30 minutes, he was not doing anything. What kind of attitude is this? That is why we left the chamber. Five MPs of the Minority were not here, so all that he was doing was to buy more time to enable them to find a way into the chamber.”

During an interview on Eyewitness News, the MP for Tolon, Habib Iddrisu, also reiterated that the budget had been approved.

“We brought them [NPP MPs] out of the chamber because there were some disagreements in the chamber at the time that the Speaker said they would be mentioning MPs’ names. And then they would be responding, so we thought that it was not right.”

“Because the challenge on the decision of the Speaker was that we should go into a headcount for people’s names to be mentioned, and that means we would have to be in a division. What is very clear and emphatic is that the 2024 budget and economic statement of the government have been approved by parliament today and that is not in contention,” he told Umaru Sanda Amadu.

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