Budget rejection: Cool heads must prevail, both sides must come together – Ablakwa

North Tongu Member of Parliament, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has said lawmakers from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) should come together and deal with matters relating to the 2022 budget statement.

As it stands, he stressed, the 2022 budget statement presented to Parliament by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta has been rejected.

Speaking in an interview with TV3’s William Evans-Inkum, Mr Ablakwa called for cool heads to prevail.

He said “I believe that at this point, what is important is that cool heads must prevail and that both sides must come together. It is clear to me that entrenched positions refusing to listen to the people, being haughty and thinking that because you have a one member majority you can have your way.

“Clearly that has shown not to be the progressive path. I do not recall the last that that a budget was read that we have witnessed demonstrations, agitations . Go to social media, everywhere people are up in arms. I don’t know who have made a public statement supporting the E-levy.”

Parliament had rejected the 2022 budget statement presented on behalf of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo by his Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, on Wednesday, November 17.

The Majority members had staged a walkout during proceedings on Friday, November 26 but that did not stop the Speaker, Alban Bagbin, from ruling on the motion.

He had given a five-minute break for the Majority members to resume their seats.

But after the time elapsed, Speaker Bagbin ruled that the budget has been rejected after the members present overwhelmingly shouted ‘No’.

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Regarding this matter, President of Imani Africa, Franklin Cudjoe, said the engagement process for the preparation of the government’s budget statement should be re-examined.

He raised issues against the engagement process adopted for the 2022 budget statement.

Mr Cudjoe said “The rejection of the 2022 budget should lead to a re-examination of the pre-budget engagement process. For a budget that was to be read on Wednesday, 17th Nov., CSOs were e-invited almost mid-night on Sunday Nov.,14 for a meeting on Tuesday,16th Nov. for their views and expectations.

“Not much could have been achieved both ways. This was the first time though as previous engagements have at least been done 2 weeks prior to the reading.”

Meanwhile, the Majority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, has accused the Speaker, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, of partisanship in the manner which he handled the motion by the Finance Minister on the 2022 budget statement and economic policy of government.

The motion, as presided over by the Speaker on Friday, November 26 in the absence of the Majority, was lost.

But in spirited challenge to events that unfolded in the House on Friday, the Majority says the Speaker’s actions were unconstitutional and the legal references he fell on to go ahead with the votes were incongruous.

“We want to put it on record that the Speaker was totally wrong in what business he purportedly undertook in the House in our absence,” the Suame Member of Parliament said.

“Now, what exercise he led for our colleagues on the other side to take a decision on related to a request from the Minister to be allowed space to engage both sides of the House in order to have some consensus and the position that the two sides of the House had adopted.”

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The longest-serving MP says he struggles to recollect in the current Republic when a prayer by a minister to revise a position on a motion has been denied by a Speaker.

“When has this happened?” he wondered.

“But be that it may [the Speaker] went ahead, did what he did in our absence because we were not in the chamber. Then went ahead to state that the motion on the budget as moved by the Minister of Finance on Wednesday, November 17 is lost.

“That whole procedure in unconstitutional. As far as we are concerned, it is null and void and it has no binding effect on anybody.”

The Majority Leader insists Mr Bagbin, who had served as MP since the start of the Fourth Republic until his election as Speaker in 2021, ought to have known the rules better in referencing Article 104 instead of Article 102.

“Assuming without admitting that he had 137 members in the chamber, they were still less than one half of the 275 and by necessary implication, that exercise that he engaged in or supervised is a complete nullity and I believe that whoever presided should bow down his head in shame.”

Source: Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana