As the practice is, every year the Government presents a budget to Parliament after which the House debates and approves it before the enactment of the Appropriation Act for the budget year.
The Act allows withdrawals from the Consolidated Fund and other public funds for spending on national projects and programmes, including payment of salaries of public sector workers.
Since 1992, this process has been passing without much hindrance from the Minority in Parliament except this year when the budget for the succeeding year, 2022, has suffered setbacks.
However, as it is in the public domain already, the 2022 Budget presented to Parliament on November 17 was rejected on November 26 by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) members in Parliament referred to asthe Minority.
The rejection was based on four reasons, namely the introduction of E-Levy, non-provision of funds to address tidal erosion in the Anlo area of the Volta Region, inclusion of Agyapa Minerals Royalty deal in the budget, and inaccurate account on the Aker Energy deal. (The details of these issues cannot be raised here for lack of space)
On November 26, the Minority decision got overturned by the members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the ruling party, plus an Independent member.
The impasse seems to have been resolved as the Minority members have agreed to modifications to the budget, particularly with regard to the issues they have raised, but asserting that they remain opposed to the E-Levy.
The Ghanaian Times wishes to remind the Members of the current Parliament that if past parliaments, since January 1993, glossed over certain things, they cannot do the same this time around, whether they call themselves Majority or Minority.
This is because the country now has a hung orbalanced Parliament, as the 275-member house is made up of137 members for NPP, 137 for NDC and an Independent member who has declared allegiance to the NPP though.
That means partisanship can only be subordinated to consensus so that the common good can be achieved by way of the development and progress of the country and its people for that matter.
The current situation demands that the people’s representatives should consider the good of the people in the face of the current hardships everywhere due in part to the devastation of the COVID-19, particularly concerning job losses whose corollary is increased dependency ratio.
In the face of all the hardships one can envisage, entrenched positions by the people’s representatives would worsen the plight of the people.
Already the Minister of Finance has given a hint that if the budget is not approved, the government would have to shut down, a situation that has a lot of negative implications; no one wishes for this though.
One of the implications is that public sector workers cannot be paid, which has unimaginable repercussions for their welfare and that of their dependents.
The NPP side of Parliament is now talking about consensus building; therefore, they, being members of the ruling party and having some upper hand, should first show that spirit of consensus building in deed and speech in order to be able to convince the Minority of good faith.
The Minority should also note that this is not the time to score political points but a time to make both their supporters and non-supporters judge for themselves that the Minority has their interest at heart.