The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Parliamentary Majority has explained to Ghanaians the reason for its walkout on Wednesday, November 29, during the approval of the 2024 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government.
A statement issued by Mr Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin, the Deputy Majority Leader and NPP Member of Parliament (MP) for Effutu, copied to the Ghana News Agency said following the conclusion of the debate on the budget yesterday, the Speaker, as per the established protocol of the House, was to put the question regarding the approval of the policy and principles underpinning the budget.
It said after a period of deliberation, the Speaker posed the question and announced that the “ayes” had it.
It noted that subsequently, Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, the Deputy Minority Leader, rose on account of Order 113(2) to contest what he (Mr Buah) deemed as a ruling by the Speaker.
The statement said because of the challenge, Mr Buah called for a headcount.
It said this prompted an intervention from the Majority Leader and Deputy Majority Leader.
It said the duo raised procedural issues in respect of the application brought before the Speaker.
The statement said despite the procedural objections raised, the Speaker declined to acknowledge these concerns and expressed his intention to proceed with a headcount as demanded.
It said at this juncture, the leadership of the majority caucus insisted on their readiness to submit to the headcount that was being sought.
“The headcount, a process where members indicating “aye” or “no” rise to be counted, typically takes approximately 10 minutes,” it said.
“The results are then tallied by table officers and presented to the Speaker, who announces the outcome.”
The statement said instead of sticking to the request of the headcount, the Speaker then said that he was drawing the attention of the House to the possibility of resorting to a division, and indeed, the Speaker then called for a division.
It said this came as a surprise to Members of the Majority Caucus, since no such application for a division had been presented to the Speaker.
The statement said the decision to call for a division was certainly not the initial application.
It said the Leadership of the Majority, —well aware that under our rules, being absent during a headcount disqualifies a member from being recorded present, whereas in a division, absent members who rush in could be counted as participants, even if they were not present when the question was initially put-; moved to halt this process that would have allowed some of the minority MPs who were outside Accra at the time to be able to proceed to Parliament to be counted, even though the Majority was fully aware that it was not going to give the Minority any advantage.
It said this departure from the call for a headcount generated heat and was set to frustrate government business; at the same time undermining the sanctity of the parliamentary processes.
It said since 1993, Parliament had never resorted to a division in making decisions.
The statement said the Majority concluded the choice for a division was unfair under the circumstance, leading to their decision to stage a walkout.
“It is essential to note that despite the Speaker’s indication that the “ayes” had prevailed, and despite a petition presented to him, a petition that hadn’t followed due process, the Speaker’s initial ruling on the “ayes” retaining their advantage stands,” the statement said.
“Consequently, the budget has been duly passed until the appeal for a headcount is dealt with, not the division that the Speaker had called.”