The Minority in Parliament yesterday criticized the Speaker of the House, Mr Ebenezer Begyina Sekyi Hughes, for allowing the Minister of Finance to present his supplementary budget without going by the proper procedure.
“The Speaker's behaviour amounts to the rule of a dictator. There should be the rule of law, and not the rule of man,” the Minority Leader, Mr Alban Bagbin, said at a press conference in reaction to the presentation of the supplementary budget.
After the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, had laid the supplementary budget before Parliament, the Speaker referred the document to the Sub-committee on Finance of the House for deliberation and report.
He then called the minister to read the supplementary budget but the Minority Leader stood on a point of order to challenge the procedure.
Mr Bagbin, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Nadowli West, argued that after referring the document to the sub-committee, the Speaker ought to have allowed the sub-committee to deliberate on the document and present its report, instead of calling the minister to read it on the floor of the House.
He stated that unlike annual budgets which were made available to Parliament for some time before the Finance Minister appeared before the House to move a motion for their adoption, supplementary budgets had to be laid and referred to the appropriate committee.
The Speaker, however, referred the Minority Leader to Standing Order 149 of the House, which reads: “Supplementary Estimates shall be regulated by the same procedure as provided in these Orders for the Budget.”
He, therefore, ruled Mr Bagbin out and called Mr Baah-Wiredu to present the supplementary budget, much to the annoyance of the Minority who started making noise to distract Mr Baah-Wiredu's attention.
Although Mr Bagbin stood up for some time when the presentation was being made, Mr Sekyi Hughes told him that he would not allow any interruptions until the minister had completed his presentation.
Mr Bagbin explained during the pre conference that when he stood up, he had wanted to draw the attention of the Speaker to the fact that the minister had moved a motion for a mid-year review and not for a supplementary budget.
He said the Speaker was totally wrong not to have recognized him when he stood up, stating that “as a House, we should be the first to lead the way to be law abiding.”
“This is another sad day for the country's democracy. What happened today on the floor of the House was fraudulent,” the Minority Leader stated.
Mr Bagbin produced a document, signed by Mr Baah-Wiredu, in which Cabinet had directed him to budget for 1.108,85 billion cedis for the proposed Youth in Employment Programme.
The amount is to be sourced from the District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF), the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GET Fund), the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the Road Fund, HIPC funds, service and investment to provide jobs for New Patriotic Party (NPP) functionaries.
He alleged that the supplementary budget had become necessary for the government to cover up its mismanagement of the economy.
The Minority Spokesperson on Finance and MP for Nabdam, Mr Moses Asaga, said, “We have witnessed the presentation of a bogus supplementary budget,” adding that the minister deceived the nation by presenting a mid year economic review to Parliament, instead of the supplementary budget which was advertised.