Parliament Under Pressure As It Rises

Parliament will be rising tomorrow for Christmas with much work to be done concerning the consideration and approval of the budget estimates for the various ministries, departments and agencies.

The Speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho, on Friday complained that business of the House had been slow and that with the backlog of business left, especially in respect of the consideration and approval of the budget estimates, he would exercise his authority under Standing Order 148 and lump all the estimates together for approval without debate or scrutiny.

But the Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, told DAILY GUIDE that it would be dangerous for the speaker to do that.

According to him, the speaker cannot just say that he has powers under Standing Order 148 to have the rest of the estimates approved without debate or scrutiny on the floor since that will amount to wholesale rubber-stamping by Parliament which has been empowered by the Constitution to exercise oversight role over the executive.

“The speaker may just be saying that probably to help hasten business in the House because for instance in considering the budget estimates for the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Arts, I detected a very serious mistake in the committee’s report which would have affected the total money that has been allocated to the ministry,” he said.

He explained that the total budget estimates for the ministry was given as GH¢33 million by the Committee of Trade, Industry and Culture while the budget statement presented by the Minister of Finance said GH¢38.9 million had been allocated to the ministry, meaning that GH¢38.9 million would have been given to the ministry to expend but GH¢33 million would have been accounted for.

The minority leader also noted that GH¢1 million was budgeted for capital expenditure by the same ministry but just GH¢70,000 was released so questions needed be asked about the whereabouts of the rest of the budgeted capital expenditure money.

“These were all very serious issues which were discovered after careful scrutiny of the committee’s report on the estimates for the ministry and so if we had not scrutinised and had just passed it Ghanaians and the nation would be the losers,” he added.

The budget estimates for Government Machinery and Other Obligations will definitely generate a lot of debate because that is the sector most Minority members think the government decides what to use the money approved by Parliament for.

By Thomas Fosu Jnr

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