Showdown in parliament today …As Majority seeks to undo Friday’s rejection

There is every indication that there will be fireworks in Parliament today as the House resumes to determine the fate of the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the government following the controversy that accompanied its rejection last Friday. 

The Majority caucus has dismissed the decision of the House describing it as “null, void, and of no effect” and expressed its determination to undo the rejection.

The House, presided over by the Speaker, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, last Friday rejected the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government after the Majority caucus staged a walk-out leaving their Minority colleagues in the House to toss the budget. 

Shortly afterward the Majority at a press conference after the 137 opposition lawmakers took the decision in their absence from the chamber said, the House was not properly constituted to take that decision. 

“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,” Majority Leader, OseiKyei-Mensah-Bonsu told the media on Friday night. 

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, NPP MP, Suame, argued that per article 104 of the 1992 Constitution, at least 138 lawmakers were needed to approve or disapprove the budget.

But the Minority contends that the House was properly constituted and that at the time their colleagues walked out, proceedings in relation to the approval or otherwise of the budget were underway and that their decision to walk out could not hold the House to ransom. 

They have indicated their readiness to face their colleagues when the House resumes today to ensure that the decision the House took on Friday was upheld. 

Article 104 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.” 

With Mr. Bagbin out of the country for medical examination, the First Deputy Speaker and MP for Bekwai, Joseph Osei Owusu, is expected to take the seat to oversee the proceedings of the House. 

This means, the numbers of the Majority would be reduced to 137, that is if they are able to marshall all their members to be in the House. 

This is because he shall be barred from voting in line with Order 109(3) which states that “a Deputy Speaker or any other Member presiding shall not retain his original vote while presiding.” 

Should the Majority succeed in rescinding the earlier decision of the House as presided over by MrBagbin, it remains to be seen whether they can marshall the numbers to ensure the budget is approved and that is if the Minority is able to assemble all 137 Members and vote en bloc. 

This is because per Standing Order 109(2), “…if upon any question before the House the votes are equally divided, the motion shall be lost.”

Unless the Majority is able to convince their colleagues in the Minority to back them, it would be an uphill task for the majority to undo the decision of the House taken on Friday. 

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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