In Ghana, when the hour is right for the national budget to be presented in Parliament, one can be sure of one thing- fascinating reactions from the chamber, in both sides of the divide.

From the tying of red hand bands, the wielding of placards to the banging of tables, budget presentations are often characterized by ‘unparliamentary’ responses from the parliamentarians themselves; especially those who become agitated by the presentation. This culture has gained prominence in recent times and the 2022 budget presentation did not come off without such dramatic sights and sounds.

After almost three hours delay of proceedings, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta finally arrived in the chamber in his usual all-white apparel. The cuffs of his long sleeves were held together by Ghana-branded cufflinks, with a lapel sparkling in Ghana colours. Sensing the yearning of his hearers, ‘Uncle Ken’, as he’s sometimes called, broke his ‘vocal virginity’ for today and penetrated the ready ears of his expectant audience.

2022 Budget Presentation: Outside Ofori Atta’s figures and percentages

At this point, all the MPs who were previously fidgeting with their phones raised their heads, and listened attentively to the government’s 2022 financial estimates christened the ‘Agyenkwa Budget’.

In the local Twi language, ‘Agyenkwa’ means ‘Savior’, ‘Redeemer’ or ‘Messiah’. And so when Ken Ofori-Atta and his team decided to name the 2022 budget as the ‘Agyenkwa’, they were obviously thinking about a budget that will save Ghanaians from their current hardships; especially the teeming number of unemployed graduates in the country. Indeed, that was the focus of the budget, as revealed by the Finance Minister in his opening submissions.

But when the Minority got the opportunity to react at the close of the Finance Minister’s presentation, its leader, Haruna Idirisu, ridiculed the ‘Agyenkwa’ description of the budget.

Spotting a traditional agbada outfit, Haruna Idirisu teased Ken Ofori-Atta’s presentation, spurring his colleagues to do same. How did ‘Uncle Ken’ react to this? Well, he sat unperturbed; his two hands pyramided under his chin in silence.

2022 Budget Presentation: Outside Ofori Atta’s figures and percentages

Due to the face mask, it was difficult to properly decipher his facial expression. Whether it was a burst of buoyant laughter or a swell of disdain, his white face mask concealed his gestures, sadly.

Predominantly clothed in kaftans and batakari, the men from the Minority held their fort and yelled bashing refrains in the chamber. The most wanted Parliamentarian, Francis-Xavier Sosu, who suddenly showed in the House from a trip abroad joined this chorus.

The ‘aggression’ of the Minority was profound; so obvious that, the Speaker had to threaten to walk some of them out. This threat, albeit issued in a jovial tone, was enough to restore some calm in the chamber. Joseph Osei-Owusu, the 1st Deputy Speaker was the man who presided as Speaker on Wednesday, November 17, 2021, when the budget was read. His boss, Alban Kinsford Sumana Bagbin sat in briefly to welcome the Finance Minister before handing over.

2022 Budget Presentation: Outside Ofori Atta’s figures and percentages

With serenity restored, Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah then had the floor to reply to the Minority’s comments. Unlike his colleague Minority leader, the MP for Suame, wore a blue suit, on top of a white shirt and a red tie. Ostensibly, the leader of government business wanted to reflect the colours of his political tradition, the New Patriotic Party.

2022 Budget Presentation: Outside Ofori Atta’s figures and percentages

In his submissions, he lauded the Finance Minister’s presentations, ending with an announcement for the leadership of Parliament, as well as the women’s caucus to wait behind for some pictures. Even though he didn’t disclose the reason for the picture, he intimated that the scheduled photography will serve a useful purpose.

2022 Budget Presentation: Outside Ofori Atta’s figures and percentages

Given the level of heckling that Finance Ministers have suffered in the past, one can say that Ken Ofori-Atta had it easy.

It is the mention of ‘SerwaaBroni’ as part of the Minority’s yells that raises eyebrows.  

2022 Budget Presentation: Outside Ofori Atta’s figures and percentages

That said, Ghana’s revenue and expenditure estimates for 2022 have been announced. The House will debate it and hopefully, all the proposals will be approved unanimously for implementation.

Whether or not it will serve its saviour purpose is a matter of time.



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