2022 Budget brouhaha: Fridayrejection reversed as Majority caucus approves document

Parliament, constituted by the Majority Caucus of the House yesterday reversed the rejection of the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government for the year ending December 31, 2022. 

The House, presided over by Speaker Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, on Friday rejected the document with 137 members; all members of the Minority caucus after the Majority staged a walk-out in the middle of proceedings.

That rejection, according to the Majority, is “null, void and of no effect” because at least 138 members were required to be in the House for that decision to be valid in line with Article 104 of the 1992 Constitution.

The Article provides that “…matters in Parliament shall be determined by votes of the majority of members present and voting, with at least half of all the members of Parliament present.” 

In this regard, Majority Leader, OseiKyei-Mensah-Bonsu, NPP MP, Suame, assured at a press conference on Friday night that “in the fullness of time, a properly constituted House, not one presided over by the Rt Honorable Speaker (Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin), will make the decision.” 

Putting those words into action yesterday, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, at the commencement of sitting, coming under Standing Order 50(1) applied to the Second Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, who was presiding that the “purported rejection” of the budget was a nullity. 

“Mr Speaker, the number 137 that was relied on by this House to reject the budget did not meet the acid test established by the Constitution under Article 104(1).” 

According to him, Speaker Bagbin clothed himself with Article 102 which relates to the quorate number needed to transact ordinary business in the House, thus making the decision not binding. 

“Mr Speaker, it is clear that the article that was invoked is insufficient to cover the determination of the question that was proposed for the support or rejection of the budget.

“I, hereby, invite you Mr Speaker to uphold the motion and set aside the impropriety because what happened that day is nullity and does not meet the test of Article 104,” he moved. 

Seconding the motion, the Deputy Majority Leader and NPP MP for Effutu, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, coming under Order 13(2) said the Second Deputy Speaker has the capacity to overturn the decision as taken by the House last Friday. 

With the Majority caucus’ 138 Members, Afenyo-Markin said the House met the minimum threshold required under Article 104 to rescind the earlier decision to reject the budget. 

To ensure the House had 138 Members as claimed by the Majority for the decision to be taken, the Second Deputy Speaker directed that all non-MP ministers left the floor of the House for a headcount to be done. 

After the count, Mr Osei-Owusu announced that there were 137 Members plus himself bringing the number to 138 for the motion to be carried; rescinding the rejection in the process. 

When he put the question for all those in favour of the motion to rescind Friday’s decision, a thunderous “YES” swept through the chamber of the House with a deafening “NO” from the side of the Minority.

That motion of rescission cleared, the Majority Leader moved that the budget be approved; a motion which received the blessing of a excited Majority caucus effectively approving the document which contains government’s financial programmes for the year ending December 31, 2022. 

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI



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