137 MPs have no power to reject budget - Majority caucus

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong
137 MPs have no power to reject budget - Majority caucus
Alexander Afenyo-Markin - Deputy Majority Leader

The majority caucus in Parliament says the pronouncement by the Speaker of Parliament that the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the government has been rejected by Parliament is “null, void and of no effect.”

According to the caucus, 137 members of Parliament have no power to take a decision for Parliament.

They have therefore asked the public to disregard the decision by the Speaker, Mr Alban Bagbin, that 137 members of Parliament have the power to take a decision for Parliament and have consequently rejected the 2022 Budget.

Read also: KT Hammond: Parliament has not constitutionally rejected 2022 Budget

In a press statement dated Friday, November 26, the Majority caucus argued that Article 104 of the 1992 Constitution and Order 109 of the Standing Orders of Parliament are very clear.

"The two provisions, read together, require that at least 138 MPs needed to have been present in the Chamber at the time of the purported vote.

"Therefore, the claim that the budget has been rejected by 137 Members of the House is null, void and of no effect because same is unconstitutional," they stated.

They said they were resolute and willing to ensure that the 1992 Constitution is respected to the letter by Speaker Bagbin and the Minority.

Below is a copy of the Press Statement

The Majority Caucus of the 8'' Parliament of Ghana hereby notifies the Ghanaian public to kindly disregard the decision by Speaker Alban Bagbin, that 137 members of Parliament have the power to take a decision for Parliament and have consequently rejected the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana.

Article 104 of the 1992 Constitution and Order 109 of the Standing Orders of Parliament are very clear.

The two provisions, read together, require that at least 138 MPs needed to have been present in the Chamber at the time of the purported vote.

Therefore, the claim that the budget has been rejected by 137 Members of the House is null, void and of no effect because same is unconstitutional.

The Majority Caucus finds it unfortunate that after making requests to the Finance Minister to reconsider some items in the Budget Statement, the Minority Caucus assisted by Speaker Bagbin, who had earlier indicated his ability to obstruct Government business, refused to give the Finance Minister an opportunity to accommodate their requests and instead hurriedly moved on to their own, attempt to vote against the Budget in a bid to subject the Government of Ghana to embarrassment for mere partisan reasons.

For the record, the acts of the Minority and the decision of the Speaker to endorse it, constitute an unconstitutionality and an illegality and should be disregarded, as same is void and of no effect whatsoever.

We assure the good people of Ghana of our resolute willingness to ensure that the 1992 Constitution is respected to the letter by Speaker Bagbin and the Minority.

Drama in Parliament

Graphic Online's Parliamentary correspondent, Nana Konadu Agyeman reported that last Friday's sitting was not without fanfare and drama as the Majority group, for the first time, staged a walkout after the Speaker, Mr Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, had ordered all non-Parliamentarians to vacate the Chamber.

The Speaker's order came after the Minority Chief Whip, Mr Mohammed-Muntaka Mubarak, had prayed the Speaker to order out ministers of state who were not MPs prior to the vote by division.

Although the non-MPs left the Chamber, the Majority protested the presence of the General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, who was seated in the public gallery in the Chamber.

The agitation by the Majority members stemmed from the fact that the Speaker had earlier threatened to direct the Marshals of Parliament to drive out ministers of state who were in the Chamber and were not Parliamentarians.

In the view of the Speaker, the ministers were not required to take part in the vote by division and, therefore, needed to leave the Chamber..

Thus at the time of the rejection of the budget, the Majority side was not in the Chamber.

Parliament had, through a voice vote, rejected a request by Mr Ofori-Atta to meet the leadership of the House before the approval of the 2022 Budget.

The Deputy Majority Leader, Mr Alexander Afenyo Markin, challenged the Speaker's interpretation of the voice vote and called for a ‘division'.

Mr Bagbin thus directed that, per the orders of the House, non-MPs had to vacate the Chamber during the voice division process.

Majority

Nana Konadu Agyeman reported that in a short media interaction, the Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, expressed concern about the Speaker's directive.

He said the Majority side would henceforth not tolerate the "machoism and illegalities" displayed by the Speaker.

Although sitting was to begin at 10:00 a.m., the Majority MPs failed to show up on time.