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07.03.2009 Business & Finance

MPs attend post-budget workshop


an address read for her by Mr Mike Oquaye, Second Deputy Speaker to open a three-day post-budget workshop for Members of Parliament (MPs) in Accra, reiterated that constitutionally, the legislature is vested with the control of the public purse.

“For instance, no tax can be imposed without the authority of Parliament, no money; apart from those charged directly on the consolidated funds, can be withdrawn from the consolidated funds without the authority of Parliament,” she added.

The workshop, sponsored by the Canadian Parliamentary Centre and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), aimed at strengthening the capacities of the MPs to review the 2009 Budget.

Justice Bamford-Addo said the ripples of shrinking economies of the developed world were having negative impact on the country's economy and the livelihood of the people.

“Our constituents are seized with these developments and it may be anticipated that public interest would highly be whetted at Parliament's debate of the 2009 Budget.”

She called on the MPs to use the opportunity provided by the workshop to overcome their fears and utilize it to build their capacities relating to issues of the budget.

Mr Alban S.K. Bagbin, Majority Leader, said for the past five years the post-budget platform had created better understanding and encouraged the MPs to reach bi-partisan recommendation in many areas of the annual budget and economic policy statement.

“These consultations, prior to the House debate and passage of the Appropriation Act has resulted in shared-learning between Parliament on one hand and the Executive on the other, on what relevant information that Parliament needs to effectively debate the budget and recommend changes that help the objectives of the budgets.

“An example of such in the current budget is the elaboration of poverty reduction plans and expenditures, and our efforts towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals,” he said.

Dr Kwabena Duffuor, Minister of Finance, stated that post-budget workshops were relevant to the advantage of government as it provides the opportunity for the legislature to appreciate the issues.

“We need all of you on board as we tackle the economic challenges we face. Your contributions and constructive criticisms will be very much appreciated since they will ultimately make our suffering people better off.”

He urged the MPs to make time to read the budget and suggest alternatives or better ways they think the budget can be implemented.

Dr Duffuor appealed to Parliament to monitor the expenditure of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to help the government achieve its objective of fighting waste in the system.

The In-Country Coordinator, Parliamentary Centre, Ms Marilyn Aniwa, said it was necessary for the MPs to hold the MDAs accountable to their work plans and ensure that activities and programmes as outlined in the budget were executed.

“If we have learnt any lessons from the recent elections, it is that the electorate is very discerning and has high expectations of government. And the least the government can do is to put its money where its mouth is.”

Ms Aniwa added that effective legislatures are crucial not only to democratic governance, but also to sustainable development.

The Centre is a non-profit making and non-partisan organization devoted to improving the effectiveness of representative assemblies around the world, she stated.

It is now a global leader in parliamentary development with projects that support parliaments in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East and its largest programmes are in Africa.

She expressed the hoped that the interaction would serve as a basis for public financial accountability, provision of information to parliamentary committees and feed into plenary debates for the final approval of the budget by the House.