Ghana PoliticsSpotlight

Budget approval: You can’t have a vote while presiding as Speaker- Minority to Bekwai MP

The Minority side in Parliament has slammed the 1st Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei Owusu for what they described as breaching the constitution and parliamentary standing orders in his exercising of a vote to up the Majority numbers to approve the 2022 budget on Tuesday, reports.

Parliament had earlier through a voice vote rejected a request by the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, to meet the leadership of the House before the approval of the 2022 budget.

It followed a disagreement over a directive by the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, for non-MPs to vacate the Chamber of which members on the Majority side of Parliament staged a walkout during processes to approve the 2022 budget in the House on Friday, November 26, 2021, and the Minority voting subsequently to outrightly reject the budget of which the Speaker okayed.

In the latest twist of events as Parliament reconvened today November 30, the Majority Caucus overturned the decision and approved the policy document with the members on the Minority side absent during the sitting today.

The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei Owusu, who chaired the sitting, rubbished the purported rejection of the budget and claimed that with his additional vote, they had the quorum to form a 138 majority decision to rightly overturn the disapproval and accept the policy document as duly recognized by the House.

“My attention has been drawn to the record, page 10 of the Votes and Proceedings of Friday, which showed that the confirmed numbers of the Members of Parliament at the time the question was presented was less than half of the Members of Parliament. Records show that 137 members were present. That is less than half of the full Members of Parliament. Article 104 and our standing order clearly spell out the process of decision-making in the house. It clearly states that a question shall not be put on any matter unless at least half of the members are present in Parliament.

The Speaker appeared not to have paid attention to the Constitution and procedural provisions. I’m certain that given his expertise, he would not have made this error if his attention was drawn to it. The consequence of this unfortunate error is that it is void and inconsequential since it was done in violation of Article 104 (1) of the constitution.”

However, the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu has in a press conference shortly after the showdown by the Majority claimed that the 1st Deputy Speaker acted in breach of the constitution quoting the Parliamentary standing order 109 to support his statement.

Haruna Iddrisu notes that the 1st Deputy Speaker cannot have a vote when presiding over parliamentary business hence, the declaration of the 2022 budget as passed is null and void.

“Today will go down as a dark day in the history of parliamentary processes in Ghana. You can’t have a vote while presiding as Speaker. Even if what they did today is anything to go by, you have breached the very constitution you swore to uphold and protect especially coming from those who pride themselves as constitutional democrats.

Our standing order 109 is clear on this. As far as we are concerned, today’s vote reflected 137 which indicates that the budget has not to be been approved.

We are a very constructive and reasonable opposition and we want to inherit a healthy economy in the near future when President Mahama comes back to power so we must ensure that the right thing is done.

There were concessions so when you go ahead to approve a budget statement without concessions, then what have you approved?” Hon. Haruna Iddrisu quizzed.

Meanwhile, the Member of Parliament for Manso Nkwanta Constituency, Hon. George Obeng Takyi has insisted that the 1st Deputy Speaker has a right to cast a vote since he’s a Parliamentarian first before any other duty.

Here is a video excerpt of his remark on Kumasi-based Pure FM in an interview with Nana Kwame Adjei Bohyen.




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