The Speaker of Parliament, Right Honorable Alban S.K. Bagbin has bemoaned the rising loss of confidence in politicians, especially parliamentarians by the public due to the perception that politicians work for their interest.
He observed that “the average Ghanaian politician has become an endangered species for the perception of the ordinary Ghanaian that we do not work in their interest, but for our parochial interests.”
To make matters worse, “there is copious evidence to support this perception and no honest politician can contest this reality.”
To this end, he has urged the 275 parliamentarians to ensure the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy presented by the Finance Ministry last week is scrutinized and reviewed in a manner that “ensures that what is finally approved addresses, not just the felt needs and aspirations of Ghanaians, but also the dictates of consistency, sustainability and an organic whole in line with the medium-term programme of the county.”
The Speaker made the observation in Ho when he addressed the opening ceremony of the post-budget workshop for parliamentarians. The annual programme is aimed at enlightening members of parliament on the budget statement and economic policy presented by the executive arm of government, so they can make meaningful reviews, recommendations, and inputs to either approve or reject the budget.
He reminded the parliamentarians that the 1992 Constitution and the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (PFM) empowers them to provide oversight for budget, finance, government expenditure, performance reporting, post-legislative scrutiny, and the impact of fiscal policy measures on the economy.
This oversight responsibility on the executive gives parliament, the second arm of government the power to approve or reject the budget. However should they approve it, it must be done with the view to serve the interest of the people and not politicians.
Rt. Hon Bagbin further noted that when parliament approves the budget and grants the executive power to implement its policies and programs, it behooves parliament to further supervise, monitor, and evaluate the process to ensure judicious use of the resources of the state.
For the speaker, the 8th Parliament which he described as a hung one; provides a good opportunity to restore hope to the people. He said “Hon. Members, please we have the unique opportunity as a hung parliament with a speaker not from the party in power, to win back the confidence of the citizenry, by giving them governance that reflects their (public) collective will.”
The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu who agreed with the sentiments of the Speaker, however, stressed that the 2022 budget Statement and Economic Policy is a proposal to confront the challenges facing the economy and future of the country.
Hence, both sides of the House; who are representatives of the Ghanaian people, must not only interrogate the critical issues and exercise their oversight on the executive but take interest in understanding the issues to be able to explain government policies and programs to their constituents.
Furthermore, the House must ensure that the policies and programs proposed are practicable and can be operationalized without bottlenecks; such that the targeted groups will benefit to reinvigorate the economy which has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also emphasizes the need to thoroughly scrutinize the budget to determine the state to which it addresses development challenges like poverty eradication, gender, children and vulnerable, employment, social and infrastructural development as well as Security.
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu on his part stressed that the minority will ensure that the 2022 budget will be scrutinized to investigate the extent to which it is addressing the suffering of the people. He lamented that it appears the country may be on a path of economic crises; considering the rising unsustainable public debt levels. Mr. Iddrisu assured that the executive will be kept in line to ensure levies and policies which are not conducive to the interest of the people will not be supported.
The Clerk of Parliament, Mr. Cyril Kwabena Oteng Nsiah expressed confidence in the competence of the Parliamentarians to examine the 2022 Budget and Economic Policy in the context of prioritization, economy, value for money, efficiency, transparency, and accountability.
Before the workshop, the Speaker and Members of Parliament paid a courtesy call on the Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State, Togbe Afede XIV at his Palace.