The Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon Joyce Bamford-Addo has stated that parliamentary control of the public purse is a prime duty to ensure that authorized monies were utilized for its intended purpose.
She said this in a speech read for her at the launch of a three-day parliamentary budget review workshop being organized for parliamentarians to dissect the 2009 budget statement and economic policy of the government.
It is being organized by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), a non profit, non partisan organization devoted to improving representative assemblies around the world.
The speech, which was read by the second Deputy Speaker, Prof. Mike Oquaye, stated that some of the overriding powers of parliament were that no tax can be imposed without the authority of parliament.
“No money, apart from those charged directly on the consolidated funds can be withdrawn without the authority of parliament,” she said.
Hon. Rt. Banford-Addo stated that the ripples of shrinking economies of the developed world were gradually being felt in Ghana.
Consequently, she said there were bound to be significant decreases in remittances from our kinsmen abroad and also donor funds. “These will have a negative impact on our economy and indeed the livelihood of our people. Our constituents are seized with these developments and it may be anticipated that public interest will highly be whetted at parliament's debates of the 2009 budget,” she said.
She said most of the parliamentarians might not be experts in economics and so shudder at the terminologies usually associated with budgets. “I wish to reiterate that this workshop presents an opportunity to overcome this fear and also get insightful examination on the perspective of 2009 budget by the kind tutorage of our distinguished resource persons”, she said. She called on participants to adopt a non-partisan approach in their discussions of the budget.
The Majority Leader, Honorable A.S.K Bagbin, who chaired the programme, said the budget was in line with the social democratic principles of collective wellbeing, proposed result-oriented policies and measures that would generate interesting dialogue in the course of the workshop towards the realization of the Better Ghana agenda.
He said in the past five years the leadership of parliamentary committee interacted with resource persons outside parliament and the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government on annual budgets and economic policy statements of government.
This interaction, he said, had been possible through the partnership of parliament of Ghana and Ghana Parliamentary committee support project, and created a platform for a better understanding of the annual budget and economic policy of government.
“This has, therefore, encouraged parliamentary committees to reach a bi-partisan understanding and recommendation in specific proposals in budgets,” he said.
He said 2009 budget initiative offered that the government would invest in people, jobs and the economy for a better Ghana to take effect from “your active participation at this legislative stage of the budget process.”
He told the media to continue their active contribution in directing incisive discussion on national issues.
“Your active engagement with the public officials on the 2009 budget is therefore highly appreciated”, he said.
The Minister of Finance, Dr. Kwabena Duffour on his part said all parliamentarians must make time to read the budget and suggest alternatives ways of implementing the budget.
“I hope I can rely on parliament not only to give the necessary support by approving our request but to offer suggestions to enrich discussions of the discourse and papers we lay in parliament”.
The Minority Leader, Honorabe Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu said the opposition might not be very critical when government does the right thing.