Historic 8th Parliament Shockingly Rejects 2022 Budget after Majority Abandoned Gov’t Business
There was a historic drama in the 8th Parliament of the 4th Republic when the perceived Majority Group of the House walked out on the Business of the day, making it the first time a majority side has walked out of Parliament under the 4th Republican Constitutional era.
Even more surprising was the Speaker, raising assertions that he would go down in the history books of Ghana as the most assertive and effective Speaker of the 4th Republican Democracy.
A walkout by the Majority group from the Chamber on Friday, November 26, 2021, did not prevent the House from continuing with the business of the day.
Members of the majority group furiously staged a walkout after a disagreement over a voice vote which did not go in their favor.
“Clearly, the No’s have it. The motion is accordingly lost”, the Speaker ruled.
The 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy was read in the House by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, on the 17th November 2021, which was subsequently thoroughly debated by the House.
Parliament was to conclude debate on the budget statement and approve the policy document on Friday, and interestingly, the majority group had to abandon their own budget for the minority to make the final decision.
A last-minute request by the Finance Minister to meet with the leadership of the House was turned down by MPs, after the Speaker announced that the No’s had won the voice vote.
Deputy Majority Leader, Hon. Alexander Afenyo Markin, thus challenged the Speaker’s interpretation of the voice vote and called for a ‘division’.
Speaker Alban Bagbin subsequently directed that, per orders of the House, (ie according to Order 114) non-MPs had to vacate the Chamber during the division process.
“As the Speaker, I will do all I can, not allow the government to obstruct or frustrate Parliament in its lawful duty. That is a pledge to the people of Ghana, and there is a reason why the good people of Ghana elected this Parliament.
It is a hung Parliament of 137-137, the independent decided to do business with one side of the majority, so there is no majority party in this house. This is a new beginning, where for the first time, a Majority has walked out from its own business”, Rt. Hon. Alban Bagbin stated.
While vacating the Chamber, the Majority MPs demanded that the General Secretary of the opposition National Democratic Congress, Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, who was sitting in the public gallery at the time, must also exit the Chamber, a demand he ignored.
This infuriated the Majority MPs who walked out of the Chamber, leaving only members on the Minority side.
The Speaker of Parliament subsequently suspended the sitting for five minutes after which sitting continued.
Minority’s Position on the Budget
The Minority caucus in Parliament had vow to kick against the government’s proposal for a 1.75% tax on all electronic financial transactions.
The tax according to the Minority group, is a disincentive to investments and private sector development.
Minority Leader, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu said the tax will overburden Ghanaians.
“Our concern is whether the E-levy itself will not be a disincentive to the growth of a digital economy in our country. We are convinced that the E-levy may as well be a disincentive to investments and private sector development in our country…
We in the Minority will not support government with the introduction of that E-levy. We are unable to build national consensus on that particular matter,” he said.
Various stakeholders including those in the telecommunications sector have also raised concerns about the policy.
Government in response is expected to engage the telcos on the policy.
The 1.75 percent levy will be imposed on transactions covering mobile money payments, bank transfers, merchant payments, and inward remittances.