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10.11.2005 General News

A glimpse from the Press gallery on a budget day

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Accra, Nov.10, GNA - Desperate workmen banged and tore through concrete and wooded slabs as they battle to complete the expansion and beautification of the Parliamentary chamber.

They had started early on Thursday as an overzealous security man watched with contempt as if to make sure that they laid down their tools before the purse keeper (Finance Minister) of the nation made public how the country will gather, eat and save its fortunes in the coming year. From the press gallery where multitudes of true and fake journalists jostle to have glance at the passing moments of history, a Finance Minister struggled to read volumes of paper that made little sense to street hawkers running the pavements of the choking city of Accra to make a living.

But for the scholar, it made a lot of sense. Ghana was making history by reading the budget in November, the first time since 1953. Microphones, mobile phones and recorders cracked as the media rushed to find answers to a question yet to be posed.

Like possessed native doctors and priests, their body language portrayed every word they spoke into their devices to an audience so far way yet wanted to be part of the Parliamentary proceedings. They had a special way of shoving off people to get to their target. These days, the media has acquired exotic taste of fashion. For those who feel like doing the cat walk, tight apparels to reveal whatever is hidden, goes public and for those who love to be in a club of elites, an expensive jacket or even a second hand one which holds the memory of the original owner would do.

But in a country where talking is preferred to reading and writing, the people love their talk show hosts so do the politicians adding to the exclusion of those spilling ink to preserve history for a struggling nation.

On Thursday, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Finance Minister, had read 2006 financial statement before a supportive Majority and a hostile Minority. Though not blessed with the power of oratory, he endeared himself to everyone in this modest jacket and a jug of cocoa drink to prevent from choking.

He called the budget a "budget of good news" as his opposers christened it "Azaa" a word found in every Ghanaian language and synonymous with the words "scam" and "trickery". The Minister had given hope to the Ghanaian by saying that all was well but Ghanaians needed to work harder to be paid better wages. The Minority had said he performed on a theatre stage, reciting old poems and raising insignificant issues ignoring what was important. In the public gallery, a Caucasian from the World Bank nodded in agreement as Negroes filling the seats of the minority nodded in disagreement.

A lady groomed to guide the Minister's speech with a power point presentation jammed her chores as the Minority pelted her with catcalls and boos.

The public had feasted with their eyes on what is normally preserved for their representations.

But one person whose absence was felt was Moses Asaga, the Minority Spokesman on Finance and chief inquisitor of government financial issues.

The man who called 2005's budget the" Wahala budget" had booked a flight out of town on official business.

Mr John Atia, a former journalist now the Minority Chief Whip, displayed a sheet of paper with the words "Azaa Budget" scribbled on it. The NPP women repeated last year's romantic performance as they trooped to a tired Finance Minister to clothe him with kisses. From the press gallery, an outcrop of concrete draped with defaced carpet and preserved for journalists, heads of the nation's lawmakers are easily counted but not what is in those heads.

But a restless new crop of journalists is in town. They are in the business of counting the brain cells of people. They do not mind doing so even from the press gallery of the parliamentary Chamber. Nov 10 05.

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