The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has urged the Ministry of Finance to release in full the budget of the Ministry of Defence as approved by Parliament.
He said with the increase in terrorism and a general security threat across the globe, the practice where the defence is starved of what it has been allocated by the House does not bode well for the safety and security of the country.
“My checks from the Defence Ministry and the Controller and Accountant-General Department clearly indicated to me that the security agencies are one of the priority areas of the government but this is not what is reflected in the performance of 2022,” he said.
The Speaker made this call at the consideration of the GH¢3.742 billion budget for the ministry in Parliament in Accra yesterday in support of a revelation by South Dayi Member, Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor, that only GH¢89 million of the GH¢141 million capital expenditure approved for the ministry has been released as at September.
“It is sad when I read and saw that approximately 81 per cent of the budget on goods and services have not been released to the Ministry of Defence.
“In this current situation, how do you expect them to operate and I agree totally with Honourable Dafeamekpor that it is not for this House to continue appealing to the Ministry of Finance to release approved budgets,” he said.
Speaker Bagbin added: “We are in charge, we legislate and pass the laws on taxation and Ministry of Finance are to implement; if they are failing to do it, we have to take them on and not to be appealing to them.
“I cannot understand this particularly how the Defence Ministry and sister ministers are struggling with the safety of the Ghanaian and we know what is happening in the sub-region.
“I think that we should take this as the last occasion where we tolerate it from the Ministry of Finance; we do not want to have this repeated again.”
Describing the development as “a very serious matter”, Mr Dafeamekpor said budgets of the security services needed to be treated differently and that Parliament must not be appealing to the finance ministry to be release funds approved by the House.
“Year in and year out, we stand on the floor and say that we are pleading with the Ministry of Finance. We should stop pleading and demand. Mr Speaker, when they collect the tax, they use the law to do so and they come here to make allocation and we give approval, we should not be pleading with the MoF to release money.
“How do you expect the army to work well if what they require in 2022 you cannot release all to them?” Mr Dafeamekpor asked and entreated the finance ministry to be proactive towards the security agencies.
The House meanwhile approved the budget estimates for the ministries of Lands and Natural Resources, GH¢1,350,964,580, Food and Agriculture, GH¢2,153,234,369, Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development, GH¢2,074,323,448 and Information GH¢141,464,328.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI