Budget: Climate in parliament is endangering mental health of Ghanaians – Dr Agumenu

A Governance Expert, Dr Donald Agumenu has noted that Ghanaians are going through mental torture over the way and manner the 2022 budget statement is being handled by Parliament.

In his view, the climate in parliament at the moment is endangering the mental health and wellbeing of the citizenry.

“I think we need a clear position from our MPs in the 8th parliament on the 2022 budget. Ghanaians are going through mental torture from this crafted stalemate- the choreography is getting out of hands.

“If it’s true that peace is not only the absence of war , then it makes sense to conclude that the climate in parliament at the moment is endangering the mental health and wellbeing of the citizenry. Let’s come clear and move forward,” the former aide to the late former President Rawlings said.

On Wednesday December 1, there was a heated debate between the Majority and Minority lawmakers in Parliament over the approval of the 2022 budget statement by Parliament without the Minority.

The Minority had moved a motion to set aside the approval of the budget. Their Leader, Haruna Iddrisu in moving a motion to overturn the approval said 137 lawmakers of the Majority could not have taken a decision.

He said they didn’t consider Deputy Speaker Joseph Osei Wusu (Joewise) who deliberated over proceedings, as Member of Parliament at the time he was sitting in as speaker hence that leaves the number present at 137.

His motion was supported by Bawku Central MP, Mahama Ayariga who pleaded with the First Deputy Speaker to set aside the approval.

However, in a sharp rebuttal, Damongo MP and Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, quoting from the Constitution and the Standing Orders of Parliament defended and justified the approval of the budget.

“Mr Speaker, the approval of the budget was legal, it was appropriate, it was constitutional. You needed half of the members to take the decision and that decision is binding and standing,” Abu Jinapor said amidst cheers from his colleagues.

It is recalled that immediately after the approval of the budget on Tuesday, Haruna Iddrisu said that the Majority did not have the numbers to enable them approve the 2022 budget statement.

He said at a press conference in Parliament that as of the time the Majority were taking the decision to approve the budget, they were 137 and not 138.

“The precedent they are setting will haunt them in the future. At the time that they were taking the decision the house was not 137.”

They further rejected the assurance by the Finance Ken Ofori-Atta that their concerns in the 2022 budget would be addressed at the committee level.

Haruna Iddrisu said that they wanted their concerns captured in the original budget statement, not to be discussed at the committees’ sittings.

“If you are acknowledging and admitting that there were concessions, let it reflect in the statement” and not a meeting at the committee level.

He further stated that the Minority will oppose to the E-levy proposal in its current any day and anytime.

“We don’t support the E-levy in its current. Our point is to revise it to take care of the ordinary people.”

Meanwhile Mr Ofori Atta has announced adjustment to the 2022 budget statement

Regarding the controversial e-levy proposal which he said was the elephant in the room, Mr Ofori Atta indicated at a press conference on Monday December 6 that consultations were still going on regarding the proposal in order to reach a consensus.

With regards to Agyapa Royalties Ltd, we shall amend paragraphs 442 and 443 to take out references to mineral royalties collateralisation. It is important to note that, any reference to Agyapa was for informational purposes, and as such was not reflected in the fiscal framework;

“In respect of the unfortunate tidal waves which rendered about 3,000 people homeless in Keta, we shall make the necessary budgetary allocations of at least GHS10 million to complete the Feasibility and Engineering studies for the coastal communities adversely affected.

“We will broaden the scope of the study to consider a more comprehensive solution to protect Ghana’s 540 Km of coastline,
including the 149 Km between Aflao and Prampram. Meanwhile, NADMO has responded to the humanitarian crisis created by the tidal waves on the Keta coastline;

“Relating to the Aker Energy transaction, we shall amend paragraph 829 of the 2022 Budget on the acquisition of a stake from Aker Energy and AGM Petroleum by GNPC, to reflect the resolution of Parliament dated 6th July, 2021 that “the terms and conditions of the loan for the acquisition of the shares shall be brought to Parliament for consideration pursuant to article 181 of the Constitution; and

“On the benchmark values, we shall avert any hardships to importers and consumers while safeguarding the interest of local manufacturing industries to secure and expand jobs for our people. This administrative exercise which reviewed 43 out of 81 line items, has the objective to promote local manufacturing and the 1D1F policy, including the assembling of vehicles. It is important to note that this adjustment affects only 11.4% of the total CIF value, of which 50% is for vehicles. From our analysis, the potential increase in retail prices should be relatively insignificant and therefore inflation should be muted. The YouStart policy will also support our accomplished Traders with appropriate training and access to capital to become Manufacturers in order to expand the industrial base of our society and our import substitution strategy, in line with our Ghana Beyond Aid agenda. We will work with the relevant Committees of Parliament to reflect these modifications in the 2022 Budget as is the usual practice, before the Appropriation Bill is passed. Any other concerns which may emerge shall be addressed during the discussions of the estimates by the Committees, as has been the tradition.

“On the matter of the E-levy, having regard to its serious fiscal implications, we will continue our consultations with the Minority Caucus in Parliament and other relevant stakeholders, with a view to achieving consensus and reverting to the House in the shortest possible time.

These changes became necessary following the spirited objections raised against the budget by the Minority in Parliament.

Source: 3news

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