...for 30 minutes Accra, Nov. 15, GNA - Parliament on Tuesday had to suspend sitting for 30 minutes when the debate on the 2006 Budget Statement began following a protest raised by Mr Moses Asaga, Minority Ranking Member on Finance.
Mr Asaga, also NDC-member for Nabdam, had questioned why the debate should go on when Finance Minister, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu and his Deputies were not in the House to follow proceedings. He, therefore, called for the postponement of the debate until the matter was resolved.
Mr Felix Owusu-Adjapong, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, then sought to intervene by saying the debate could still go on without the presence of the Finance Minister and his Deputies because his presence (Mr Owusu-Adjapong) as Minister of Parliamentary Affairs was good enough to hold the fort for his colleagues.
The Speaker, Mr Ebenezer Sakyi Hughues, however, ruled that the House should suspend its sitting for 30 minutes to await the presence of the Finance Minister.
Mr Richmond Quarm, NPP-Gomoa East, who had earlier started the debate, before Mr Asaga's intervention, told the House that the budget was good news because for three consecutive years, the gross domestic product growth rates were moving in a positive direction. He said it was likely that for this year the GDP growth rate of 5.8 per cent could even be exceeded.
"The macro-economic indicators are pointing in the right direction... Ghana is set for a take-off to become a middle income country by the year, 2015," he said.
Later when the House reconvened after the Finance Minister and his three Deputies were present, there were heated arguments, which further held up the debate.
This was after Mr Asaga had described the 2006 Budget as "Azaa", resulting in the Majority calling on the MP for Nabdam to withdraw the word since they said it was un-parliamentary.
Although, the Speaker ruled that the word should be avoided to set the right tone for debate, the Minority insisted they had the right to their perceptions about the budget.
Mr Asaga then described the budget as "a disaster budget for Ghana" saying it had failed to create jobs for the people and to invest in them.
"Basic needs are not met by macro-economy... after five years of pursuing its economic policies... what we told you is becoming a reality.
"We should change our policies. For how long must we shift the goal post of prosperity?" the Member for Nabdam asked. He said the 2006 Budget was based on "high tax financing, high petroleum tax financing and was donor-driven" in the economic and infrastructure sectors.
He said about 60 per cent of the Budget depended on donors and it was an indication that "we are going no where". Mr Asaga said business people were complaining of the national reconstruction levy and the Government should listen to them by abolishing it.
The MP questioned why the Budget was silent on the cotton, rice and poultry industries, which, he said, were impacting negatively on the local economy.
He touched on the poor performance of the Ghana Stock Exchange and said it was ranked 16th on the African Continent.