The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, and the Majority in Parliament insist that the 2024 budget has been passed following the declaration of the voice vote by the Speaker, Alban Bagbin, despite the Minority’s position that the 2024 budget and economic statement have not been passed.
The Majority caucus staged a walkout in Parliament during the process to approve the 2024 budget on Wednesday, November 29, 2023.
After the debate on the budget was concluded, the Speaker of Parliament put the question for the policy document to be approved or rejected through a voice vote.
The Minority MPs challenged the ruling by the Speaker, insisting that the 2024 budget had been approved by a majority voice vote and called for a headcount.
This decision did not sit well with the Majority MPs, who walked out of the house.
The Majority MPs insisted that the Speaker of Parliament had already ruled in their favour, hence the headcount was needless.
Addressing journalists after the walkout by the Majority, the Finance Minister said, “At the end of the day, the Speaker put it to vote twice, and he declared that the ‘ayes’ have it. That means the budget, in my view, has been passed. Later, there was a challenge, which has not been resolved. So far as I know and believe, we have the 2024 budget passed until such time that they resolve whatever they want to resolve.”
The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who expressed fury about the Speaker’s actions, pointed out, “You were all there; you heard the Speaker loud and clear. Why should a Speaker beat such a hasty retreat from what he has said? In this case, he said the ‘ayes’ have it. Then you have the Speaker making a sudden U-turn that he didn’t add that the ‘ayes’ have it. He just expressed an opinion. And that’s most unfortunate. So, we think that the proper thing should be done.”
“We agreed to the headcount; what was he waiting for? For good about 30 minutes, he was not doing anything. What kind of attitude is this? That is why we left the chamber. Five MPs of the Minority were not here, so all that he was doing was to buy more time to enable them to find a way into the chamber.”
During an interview on Eyewitness News, the MP for Tolon, Habib Iddrisu, also reiterated that the budget had been approved.
“We brought them [NPP MPs] out of the chamber because there were some disagreements in the chamber at the time that the Speaker said they’ll be mentioning MPs’ names. And then they’ll be responding, so we thought that it was not right.”
“Because the challenge on the decision of the Speaker was that we should go into a headcount for people’s names to be mentioned, and that means we’ll have to be in a division. What is very clear and emphatic is that the 2024 budget and economic statement of the government have been approved by parliament today and that is not in contention,” he told Umaru Sanda Amadu.
However, the MP for Banda and Deputy Minority Chief Whip, Ahmed Ibrahim also stated that the Speaker didn’t do anything alien to the rules of the house.
“As I speak to you, the voice vote has not been declared and the results have not been declared. Our brothers on the Majority side sensing that they were going to lose walked out. If you say you have the numbers and we say let’s confirm, then you walk out, if you have the numbers why did you walk out? The speaker didn’t do anything alien from the rules.”
He lashed out at the Majority for their actions in parliament today.
“They must take the people of Ghana seriously; parliament is not for jokes, and it’s not an entertainment centre. We call for a headcount and you run away. Headcount and division are not the same,” he asserted on Eyewitness News.