We Presented The Budget; How Do We Then Run Away From It? - NPP MP Quizzes Bagbin

Afigya Kwabre North Member of Parliament (MP), Collins Adomako-Mensah has dissected the circumstances that led to the Majority boycott at Parliament on Friday, November 26, during voting on the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy.

The Majority walked out from their chambers after insisting that the General Secretary of the opposition National Democratic Congress, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, who was sitting in the gallery in the House of Parliament during proceedings, should exit the gallery.

The Majority's absence from Parliament however didn't stop the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Alban Bagbin who is currently on a medical leave at Dubai, from carrying on with the voting resulting in only the Minority voting and rejecting the budget.

Nonetheless, the Majority assert that the budget hasn't been rejected stating emphatically what transpired in Parliament on Friday was unconstitutional.

Discussing the matter during Peace FM's ''Kokrokoo'' Monday morning, the Afigya Kwabre North MP clarified the rationale for the Majority walkout and why they insist the budget hasn't been rejected.

He disclosed that, before the Parliamentary proceedings on the budget, the Majority was having a caucus meeting which the Speaker of Parliament was fully aware but went into the House while the Majority meeting was in session, claiming he didn't know why they were running late for the proceedings to begin.

According to him, the Majority didn't take the Speaker's impression to the public kindly but however truncated their meeting to join the proceedings.

''What we heard the Speaker say was disturbing. We did not take it lightly because it had created an impression that we're running away from our budget. We were not running away from our budget. We brought the budget; how do we run away from our budget?''

He further explained that, during the proceedings, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta asked permission from the Speaker to hold on with his judgement call on the budget giving reasons that he (Ofori-Atta) had taken notice of the varying opinions shared on the budget, so would like to hold a stakeholder consultative meeting before any decision could be made on it.

But the Speaker ignored the Minister's plea and went ahead to call for voting which attracted a response from the Deputy Majority Leader Alexander Afenyo-Markin, Hon. Collins Adomako-Mensah narrated.

''Our standing orders permit that when the Speaker makes that judgement call, you can challenge that judgement. So, Afenyo-Markin then stood up to challenge that judgement and called for a division. It was in the wake of the division that the Speaker said all those in the lobby, based on our standing orders, should exit. In fact, we, as a Majority, were not happy with how the Speaker behaved to the extent that he called the Marshall on the Finance Minister. 

''When the Speaker was giving the reasons for that, he said it's a voicenote, so if someone who won't engage in the voting is present, that person might add his voice. It can compromise the whole process, so they should exit. Then we saw some members of the NDC including the General Secretary of the NDC in the gallery. Now if you are sending people away saying the voice, it can be compromised and there is someone sitting in the gallery who, when you say all those in favor, can also add his voice; it was on that basis that we insisted that those also in the gallery should exit for fairness. That's where the confusion started because up and down, we walked out because there was a misunderstanding. That was how come we walked out'', he recounted.

Unconstitutional Action

To him, the Speaker acted unconstitutionally and the Minority's rejection of the budget also doesn't hold because, reading Article 104 of their standing orders, ''matters in Parliament shall be determined by votes of the majority of members present and voting with at least half of all Members of Parliament present''.

''So before you put the question, all Members of Parliament (half of the members) must necessarily be present'', he argued.

''We vehemently disagree with the Speaker on that. Tomorrow (Tuesday), there will be a heated debate because I can put it on record that, as a majority, we do not subscribe to what happened on Friday and we are going to use all legal means, both based on the constitution and our standing orders, to challenge what happened on Friday,'' he added.