Lawmakers from Ghana’s ruling party have overturned a decision by the minority to reject the country’s 2022 budget and economic policy statement.
Last Friday, a one-sided minority with a total of 137 members voted to reject the budget after the majority MPs staged a walkout.
The majority MPs were protesting the failure of the speaker Alban Bagbin to compel the General Secretary of the opposition NDC Johnson Asiedu Nketia to vacate the public gallery after instructing the marshals to drive out ministers of state who were in the house although they are not parliamentarians.
The walkout by the majority MPs paved way for a one-sided house to reject the budget. The minority MPs accused government of increasing hardship with the imposition of a levy on electronic transactions and other taxes.
But the development did not go down well with majority MPs who accused the speaker of bias and hinted that they will do everything possible to overturn the decision.
Majority overturns decision
With the first deputy speaker leading parliamentary business in the absence of the speaker, majority lawmakers approved the budget subject to concessions proposed by the Minority and agreed to by Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta.
This was done in the absence of minority MPs who were not in the chamber during the voting.
The first deputy Speaker Joseph Osei-Owusu sitting on Tuesday in the absence of Speaker Alban Bagbin, said the decision to reject the Budget which was taken by the Minority, was done in contravention of the Standing Orders of Parliament.
According to Joe Osei-Owusu, the rule is that no less than half the members of parliament should have voted on the issue, however the records showed only 137 members (of the Minority) undertook the exercise.
He also counted himself as the 138th Majority MP in the house contrary to interpretation of some standing orders of parliament.
Minority condemns decision
But this move, according to the minority MPs, is not only disappointing but also in clear breach of the parliamentary standing orders.
“The majority say they respect the constitution and the standing orders of the House, today I am particularly disappointed in the conduct of the First Deputy Speaker having to include himself and to exercise himself in order to meet their mandatory defined 138 without recourse or respect to the standing orders and the 1992 constitution. Standing order 109 is on voting”, Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu said in an address to the media.
The Minority Leader particularly mentioned Article 104 of the Constitution and Order 108 of the standing orders in parliament.
“The Speaker for the day, Joe Osei Owusu, MP for Bekwai had no locus to count himself among the MPs, therefore as far as we are concerned, today’s vote reflected another 137. They were not 138 but 137. They have set a precedent that will come and haunt them in future”, he said.
Social media reactions
Some minority MPs and prominent citizens have also taken to social media to criticize the decision.