Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, has stated that the Minority in Parliament did not have the required number to reject the 2022 budget on November 26.
The Effutu MP argued that there was no quorum.
Speaking to Samson Lardy Anyenini, host of Newsfile on Saturday, he explained that to form a quorum for any voting exercise in the House, members must be physically present and meet the threshold as stipulated in the Constitution.
Article 102 of the Constitution states that one-third of the total number of MPs, excluding the person presiding, must be present for any parliamentary business.
However, the Majority argues that the Minority side did not meet the requirement of Article 104(1), which says matters in Parliament should be determined by votes of the Majority (more than half) of members present and voting.
Mr Afenyo-Markin further said whereas the House met the quorum to transact business, it did not meet the quorum to vote after the Majority boycotted the proceedings.
He, therefore, concluded that the 137 Minority MPs did not form a quorum of a majority of members ‘present and voting’ at the time of the approval of the budget on Friday.
“I am surprised that the NDC is now defining quorum to be mean ‘if you are unavoidably absent from the Chamber, you can still be counted’, really? Then what was the basis for the Deputy Minority Whip’s application on quorum when clearly members were at committee? The rule provides that when a member raises quorum, there has to be a headcount, the bell must be rung to get people to come into the Chamber, and you must physically be present.”
“At the time that they were taking their decision, did we have more than 137 physically present? In fact, there were two-staged applications. One was the prayer by the Finance Minister. We left at that point; we didn’t ask for a headcount. What Mr Speaker did was a headcount,” he noted.
The Effutu lawmaker further added that “there is a difference between a headcount and a decision. My application was specific. So technically speaking, even if we were absent, Mr Speaker couldn’t have varied it to do a headcount. So that in itself was wrong [because] there was no division.”
“At the time we left, there was a decision on the first prayer [by the Finance Minister], then when we were not there at all, they went ahead to do a second question; they put a second question and carried it. No! That is never the case. Quorum means physically present and taking a decision, so they need to get that clear.”
He took a swipe at the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC), stating the party is suffering a leadership crisis in the House.
According to him, the NDC and the Minority caucus should put their party in order.
“They have a problem, they have a leadership crisis or some hoax taking over their party, or some external interest are making life difficult for us, and at the end of the day, they will visit their displeasure on us.”
“They will come and think that we should take responsibility for their instability in their backyard. They should put their house in order [and] let us have a sincere conversation and move on as a country.”
But Ningo-Prampram MP, Sam George, disagreed with Mr Afenyo-Markin.
“Afenyo-Markin said we have lost leadership; I leave it to the judgement of the Ghanaians. He, as the Deputy Majority Leader, an 11-month-old MP, stormed out of the Chamber on Friday. Show me who has lost leadership.”
The budget approval debate
Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, earlier stressed that they had met both requirements to approve the budget on Tuesday because the presiding First Deputy Speaker was in the Chamber first as a Member before being Speaker.
But the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, has objected to this, describing the Majority’s action as unconstitutional and null.
He said the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu, could not count himself as a Member and had no legitimate right to partake in the voting process since he was presiding over proceedings.
The debate on the legality or otherwise of the Minority to reject the budget and that of the Majority to approve it continues as talks keep breaking down between the two sides of the political divide.
Some have called for the Supreme Court to interpret the provisions in Articles 102 and 104 of the Constitution.
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