The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) Caucus in Parliament has says its participation in the presentation of the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government will depend on the behaviour of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Majority Caucus.
Mr Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader, made the disclosure on Wednesday during a press conference at Parliament House in Accra.
The Government in accordance with Article 179 of the 1992 Constitution and Section 21 (3) of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016, (Act 921) is expected to present its 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy to Parliament on Thursday, November 24, 2022.
Article 179(1) of the 1992 Constitution states that “The President shall cause to be prepared and laid before Parliament at least one month before the end of the financial year, estimates of the revenues and expenditure of the Government of Ghana for the following financial year”.
Over the years, the tradition had been that the Finance Minister is the person usually appointed by the President to present the Budget Statement to Parliament, however, this year, because of the current economic challenges the nation is going through, both the NPP Majority Caucus and the NDC Minority Caucus are calling for the removal of the Finance Minister.
But both Causes differ on the mode of his removal from office, with the Majority calling on the President to remove or reassign him while the Minority have chosen to use a vote of censure.
However, the Leadership of the NPP have made an appeal to its Majority Caucus to participate in the Budget Presentation and matters connected to it.
Mr Iddrisu said as far as the Minority Caucus were concerned, public opinion was not favourable to the continuous stay in office of Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the Finance Minister.
“We feel let down and we feel betrayed by the Majority Caucus who have shown no wit in supporting us with our engagement process within the letter and spirit of Article 82 of the 1992 Constitution,” he stated.
“We are not abandoning our Censureship Motion. We are in it for the long haul and we will insist that the letter and spirit of Article 82 is fully respected and an outcome determined by a secret vote ultimately after a debate on the Committee’s is submitted to plenary.”
He said the country probably must run and would run, and that it would not necessarily be grounded to halt by an irresponsible Minority.
“But we will watch the posture and conduct of our colleagues opposite and that will determine our body language. It is early yet to determine what happens tomorrow,” he said
“We are in as a country, workers probably would have to be paid and they have to be paid from a budget. The private sector would have to be assured, and the have to be given assurance from a budget.
We are looking at the substance, not the forms.”
Mr Iddrisu said the Minority had no faith and confidence in the Minister of Finance and therefore, tomorrow would determine itself for Ghana.
He noted that the Minority was monitoring very closely, the same Majority who said that they would boycott the budget, and that what they do tomorrow would determine what the Minority does in response.
He said the Minority just simply don’t have trust and faith in the Majority’s pledge to the public and their constituents.
“The other day, they said they were going to consult their constituents, they never consulted, and they somersaulted from their original position. Don’t be surprised if tomorrow they somersault,” Mr Iddrisu said.
He urged Ghanaians to appreciate fact that when the Minority embarked on constitutional journey of censure; warranted and guaranteed under the 1992 Constitution under Article 82, they were not oblivious to the fact that they needed support and cooperation from opposite of the House.
He said when the Minority initiated the censure motion, they firmly and sincerely believed that the Majority Caucus would walk the talk with them.
“And not just make radio and interview declarations but they will manifest in supporting us on the floor of Parliament and in the exercise of a secret vote as required under Article 82,” he said.
We cannot but feel let down and betrayed.
And for me it is stab on oversight, on Parliamentary oversight and only weakens Parliament in exercising it’s oversight in calling ministers to order.”
Adding that that was very disappointing, and that it means that the Parliament of Ghana was feeling the Ghanaian citizens.
He said this was an indication that the Parliament of Ghana was failing to protect the public purse.
He said the threshold in Article 82 of the 1992 Constitution was a two-thirds majority vote to censure a Minister and that the 137 Minority Caucus members remained unequivocally resolute that they had no faith and confidence in the Finance Minister.