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NDC MP Worry Over Budget Chaos

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The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Cape Coast South, George Kweku Ricketts-Hagan, has called on his colleagues from both sides of the House to show flexibility in the passage of the 2022 budget.

This was after the NDC MPs with support from the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, last Friday night claimed they rejected the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government for the year ending 31st December 2022, as presented by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government through Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta.

Controversial Decision

Mr. Bagbin’s ruling that the 2020 budget had been rejected in the absence of the Majority NPP has sparked heated debate in the country.

The NPP Majority has blasted the Speaker saying what he did was unconstitutional, and vowed to challenge Mr. Bagbin’s pronouncements.

After the Speaker’s actions, he jetted to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, amidst reports that he was going to seek medical treatment.

Pyrrhic Victory

NDC MP Worry Over Budget ChaosThe NDC hit the rooftop, claiming they succeeded in rejecting the 2022 budget, but the Majority Caucus (NPP) said the whole exercise supervised by Mr. Bagbin, who is a card-bearing member of the NDC, is unconstitutional because the Minority Caucus did not have the quorum to take such a major decision.

Per the 1992 Constitution, current Parliament’s quorum is just 1/3 of the 275 members and to take such a decision, Parliament needs more than 1/2 of members, which is currently set at 138 after the 2020 general election.

The NDC has 137 members and the NPP also has the same number (137) and there is one independent MP.

However, the NPP has the majority in Parliament because the Independent MP called Andrew Amoako Asiamah from Fomena Constituency in the Ashanti Region, who is now the Second Deputy Speaker, and first entered Parliament as NPP MP, identifies with the NPP and therefore, on January 7 when there was a hung in Parliament, he decided to join his own people (NPP) to form the majority for the 8th Parliament of the 4th Republic (2021-2025).

Concerned MP

Mr. Ricketts-Hagan, a former Deputy Minister of Finance from 2013 to 2014, said the two sides of the House should reach consensus to pass the budget, warning that a delay in approving the budget would have dire consequences for the nation.

The negotiations to take onboard concerns of the Minority members were expected to continue yesterday ahead of the sitting of Parliament today in the build up to consensus for the budget to be approved.

Speaking on Citi FM in Accra yesterday, the MP who was once the Central Regional Minister said, “I pray and hope that on Tuesday (today) when we get into the house, instead of coming to be at each other’s throat, or taking on the Speaker, we should rather look at how to address this issue.”

“For me, it is a second opportunity for us to sit properly and see how we can get this budget passed, else people will not get their salaries and we will not be able to spend on all the areas that we will add value to the economy,” he asserted.

Cynical View

In the ensuing heat, a prominent constitutional lawyer and Head of Law Centres at the Faculty of Law, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Dr. Kwaku Agyeman-Budu, has suggested that the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, could go to jail for about 10 years if he is found to have gone against the provisions of the 1992 Constitution in the purported rejection of the budget.

“I think that, there is that issue of constitutionality that could be determined by the Supreme Court, and if you read Article 2 of the constitution for instance, a citizen of Ghana can bring an action in the Supreme Court where you believe that any person has acted or omitted to act in a way that is inconsistent with or in contravention of the constitution or any provision thereof,” Dr. Agyeman-Budu said on Asaase Radio in Accra yesterday.

“And if you read closely Article 2, you will find out that the Supreme Court has the power to declare any such act of any person unconstitutional or inconsistent with the provision of the constitution and they have the power to make consequential orders to give effect to that particular declaration or decision that they will make,” he said.

He added that, “To the extent that all those persons to whom such orders of the Supreme Court as directed are bound by the constitution to obey the orders of the Supreme Court or risk being convicted for what is referred to as high crime under the constitution; which carries a jail term of ten years and not being able to hold public office for ten years.”

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