…As Majority Glosses Over Serious Procedural Mistakes Committed By A Confused Ofori-Atta
The presentation of the Mid-Year Budget Review to Parliament by Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, was fraught with serious procedural mistakes that have called into question the legality of the whole presentation.
Mr. Ofori-Atta, on Monday, this week, presented the Review as a statement on the Floor of Parliament when the presentation ought to have been made as a Motion.
As the Majority in Parliament, led by Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, glosses over the procedural errors, in the wake of the minority staging a walkout on Tuesday, the NPP government’s side in the Legislature is seen as effectively acting together with the Finance Minister to vandalize Standing Orders of Parliament.
This Monday, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, waltzed into parliament and read out the mid-year budget review, in accordance with Section 28 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921).
In doing so, he had revised a number of economic estimates that had been captured in the main budget for 2017, which the Finance Minister presented in March, this year, and has since been adopted as a motion after debate on the floor of the house.
As parliament, fundamentally, is an independent arm of government and has the power to adopt or reject presentations to it, the changes that the Finance Minister effected to the main budget, which has been adopted by the house, ought to have gone to parliament through a motion.
“We originally looked forward to the Finance Minister bringing the review to parliament under a motion since the 2017 budget had been adopted through a motion, but he came and just read a statement.
“In the statement, he made pronouncements that sought to revise matters confirmed and accepted as a result of motion to adopt the 2017 budget and fiscal policy. The Finance Minister is not clothed with the power to revise aspects of any motion that has been adopted by parliament without recourse to parliament,” Hon. Dr. Clement Apaak, MP for Builsa South, explained to The Republic yesterday.
In vandalizing the legal procedures of parliament, the Finance Minister had snobbed a long routine of legal processes.
Per the Standing Orders of the august House, the Business Committee plans the business of the day for parliament and, usually, the plans are completed a week ahead of time.
All matters to go on the floor for consideration are consequently captured in the Business Statement or Order Paper of the day. And so when there is a motion, that motion must appear in the Order Paper.
It is upon the issue being presented in the Order Paper that it is moved and seconded and then debated, after which the Speaker chooses to have it passed on the floor or refer it to a sub- committee for appraisal.
Following from there, the sub-committee refers the motion back to plenary through a report which is then debated and then a vote is held.
“As far as we (the minority) know, the mid-year budget review by the Finance Minister did not come by way of motion,” Hon. Apaak said in an interview.
He explained that, “if the presentation of the mid-year budget review to parliament requires revision of targets and estimates which were presented in the original budget then the best thing is to come by motion.”
“Once you are revising things like interest rates, GDP and all of that, definitely you will have to come back by motion, because what he gave to parliament during the main budget came by motion which was debated and approved; so if there is any adjustment to be made in terms of major economic indicators then there is a need to come by motions as well, not to come give a statement.”
The minority on Tuesday, this week, staged a walkout at parliament over similar procedural breaches over the AMERI deal, which the NPP majority, which had voted to pass it in 2016, are seeking to get parliament rescind it.
Kwabena Tahir Hammond, MP for Adansi Asokwa, who tabled an urgent motion for the rescission, was, interestingly, a ranking member of the Mines and Energy Committee, which had okayed the deal in 2016 before it was accepted.
The NPP’s vandalism of the rules of parliament has led to worry that a culture of impunity and lawlessness that has taken hold in the country since the advent of the Akufo-Addo regime is being escalated to parliament.
Yesterday, Dr. Apaak said the minority was busily considering a follow-up action after it had staged the walkout on Tuesday.
Source: Therepublicnewsonline.com/Fiifi Samuels