MPs Clash Over New Budget

Dr Anthony Akoto Osei and Ato Forson
The Minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) led by the ranking member of finance, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, engaged in a heated debate with the Majority National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MPs) over some differences in  the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ versions of the 2016 budget statement.

The ranking member had strongly argued that the amended portions of the old budget were purely technical and must therefore be seen as a new budget which ought to be laid in parliament and read again by the Finance Minister; but the majority side led by the chairman of the Finance Committee, James Klutse Avedzi and a Deputy Minister of Finance, Ato Forson, said it was just a presentation problem and could not be seen as a new budget.

The deputy minister explained to the House that spaces of some of the tables which contained figures were too small that some of the figures could not be captured hence, the new one to capture them.

He also said that there were some pages missing which the new one had been able to capture.

Dr Akoto Osei said the calculation of the oil money that had to go into the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) was based on a wrong percentage.

“The percentage should be 70 percent and not 50 percent as captured in the new version of the budget,” Dr Akoto Osei pointed out.

He also indicated that pages 30 and 31 of the budget statement contained some other technical problems

The argument as to which of the documents must be seen as the base budget statement and the most accurate for the records of the House, became so heated and passionate that the MP for Sekondi, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, angrily drew the attention of the speaker to a voice he described as ‘shrill’ coming from the side of the majority which was repeatedly interrupting arguments being made by the minority members to help find a solution to the problem.

He was referring to the voice of MP for Bodi, Sampson Ahi, who was repeatedly interrupting the argument by the minority caucus.

“Mr Speaker, I can hear some shrill voice from the opposite side. I would not have minded that voice but the voice belongs to a deputy minister who is a member of this government whose budget we are going to debate so if we the minority are raising the appropriate issue of the need to have an accurate information for the debate to help his government, he should not interrupt,” MP for Sekondi observed.

The deputy minority leader, Dominic Nitiwul, also told the House that apart from the two versions of the budget statements, the official Hansard which captured the old budget that was read on the floor of the House, also did not capture some important tables in the budget and therefore the House did not have any base document as budget statement for debate to start.

The deputy majority leader, Alfred Agbesi, told the minority members that their concerns had been noted and that debate on the budget must be allowed to begin so that in the course of the debate the concerns would be addressed.

As a result of the heated debate on the differences in the two budget statements, the first deputy speaker, Ebo Barton Odro who was presiding, suspended sitting for the leadership to come to a consensus before the actual debate could begin.

When the debate began, the MP for New Juaben South, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, noted that the budget did not address major issues like dumsor, unemployment and high cost of living facing Ghanaians. He said the NDC government had plunged the country into serious economic hardship because of incompetence and mismanagement but the NDC MP for Tamale South, Haruna Iddrisu, said the 2016 budget would bring hope to Ghanaians.

By Thomas Fosu Jnr


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