Majority Group Challenges Speaker’s Ruling; Says Procedure for Rejecting Budget was Unconstitutional
Majority group of Parliament, led by the Leader Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, have insisted that the motion on the budget has not been pronounced on by a properly constituted House and it’s still standing in the name of the Finance Minister, so the one presided over by the Speaker will not be accepted and must be disregarded .
Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, indicated that the ruling has no binding effect on the House.
In his view, the ruling by the Speaker affirming the rejection of the budget is wrong.
“That whole procedure was unconstitutional. As far as we are concerned, it’s null and void and has no binding effect on anybody. The motion on the budget, as far as we are concerned, hasn’t been pronounced on by Parliament, and it’s still standing in the name of the Finance Minister and in the fullness of time, a properly constituted house, not one presided over by the Rt. Honorable Speaker, will make the decision,” He emphasized.
The Majority Leader also argued that per the standing orders of Parliament, a decision can only be taken by the House when MPs present are more than half of the total number.
Explaining further, he added that the NDC MPs present in the chamber were 135 and not 137, meaning the number present at the time of the ruling could not support the decision of the House in accordance with the laid down procedures.
“Article 104 (1) of the constitution says matters in Parliament shall be determined by the vote of the majority of members present and voting, with at least half of all members of Parliament present. We have cause to believe that at least two of the NDC MPs were not in the chamber and yet out of mischief, the Speaker said they were 137.
“In any event even if you go with 137, it is still less than one half of the 275 member of the chamber so when he puts the question, the Speaker should have known that the number would not support the decision of the House. So that purported decision is a nullity and does not have any effect on anybody,” he explained.
The last time a national budget was rejected was that which was meant for the 1981/1982 fiscal year.
The budget was said to have been presented by the then Finance Minister, George Benneh on Tuesday, June 30, 1981, with the budget prepared in the wake of the negotiations with the IMF.
There were certain provisions in the said budget that could be viewed as “austere”, as It provided among other things for the minimum tax exemption on income to be raised from 2,000 to 3,000 cedis per annum.
The top tax rate was reduced from 65% to 60%. Persons earning up to 4,800 cedis per annum were to pay 84 cedis per annum income tax instead of 244.50 cedis. Tax payable for those earning up to 6,000 cedis was reduced from 503.50 to 225 cedis per annum.