The 2021 Budget Statement presented by the interim Finance Minister, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has been approved by Parliament after they resumed sitting to deliberate on the Statement.

This follows days of debate on the Statement after its reading by Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.

The Minority Caucus in Parliament led by, Haruna Iddrisu, are of the opinion that the Statement as presented will worsen the living conditions of Ghanaians and fosters economic hardship.

After several hours of debate on Friday, March 19, the decision on its approval was tabled for a vote after the Minority in Parliament, who have been opposed to the Statement, particularly the introduction of new taxes requested for a vote by secret ballot.

However, following the initial voice vote on its approval, the 1st Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joe Osei-Owusu concluded that those in favour of the approval of the Statement had won the vote.

This decision however, was rejected by the NDC caucus who requested for a vote by ballot, citing Order 1132.

In response to that, Speaker Alban Bagbin resumed his position and directed a headcount of the MPs in the Chamber in order for the voting process to be initiated.

“Once you disagree with the decision and even use words like I challenge your decision and I’m coming under Order 1132, that suffices, it is enough indication that one side disagrees with the decision of the Speaker and so we proceed to do a headcount”.

However, at the end of the voting process, the initial conclusion drawn by Joe Osei-Owusu was upheld after 137 MPs voted ‘yes’ on the motion to approve the 2021 Budget Statement while 134 others voted ‘no’.

After the approval of the budget statement, some members of the Minority Caucus who spoke to JoyNews indicated that although they were unable to get the support of the House to the budget statement, they succeeded in getting the interim Finance Minister to make the necessary changes to the expenditure figures presented to Parliament.

Regardless of today’s loss, they remain unperturbed in their resolve to push any policy or issue of concern to a vote if they disagree with it.

“If government fails to convince us that they are doing it in the interest of the nation, we will vote against it.”

However, on the other side, the Majority Group has expressed disappointment on the actions of the Minority.

According to the Majority leader, both Caucuses agreed that the budget statement would be approved while the major concerns raised could be looked at and addressed.

“I thought their conduct today was unfortunate because I have been in some discussions with them. They have intimated that they were not happy with certain aspects of the budget. In particular the imposition of taxes.

“So what it is that must be done is for them to express strongly on the floor that on this or these item(s), 123, we want to register our reservations so we will not go with the government on that path with the imposition of taxes, the timing we believe is wrong. So I said to them I thought that was a better option and they agreed with me,” Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu told JoyNews.

Some other members of the Group also opined major activities in the country would have come to a halt if the statement had not been passed by the House.

“The repercussion is that if this budget was rejected, it would have been something else. The assumption is that by the end of the year if we were not able to come out with a new budget for it to be accepted by Parliament, it means that from April 1, the nation cannot work. In other words, nothing can happen in the country. Government workers cannot be paid, everything cannot run well in Parliament,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Parliament is expected to deliberate and approve the estimates of the 2021 Budget Statement in its subsequent sittings.

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