Member of Parliament for Obausi West, Kwaku Kwarteng, has said that the rejection of the 2022 budget statement in its entirety was surprising.
He told TV3 in an interview that the Majority in Parliament never imagined that the entire budget as a whole, would be rejected.
“The rejection of the budget as whole was something we did not expect. In fact, last year an attempt was made to vote it down but they didn’t have the numbers at the time and I assume that because they didn’t have the numbers they probably wanted to send a message.
“Nobody thought before we went into the chamber last week, the Minority indeed would want to vote down the budget and deny Parliament the opportunity to look at the individual requests for revenue measures and the individual resource allocation requests in the budget, so it came as a surprise.
[Today] we are sitting, I don’t know what the business committee would have decided but definitely an important matter like that even if it wasn’t programmed or it is not on the order paper, had to be introduced into the discussion.”
Last week, Parliament rejected the budget statement presented by Finance Minister ken Ofori Atta.
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’.
Following this development, the Majority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, is accusing 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.”
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.”
It is unclear what next action will be taken by the Majority as the Speaker is set to travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for a medical review.
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.”