Ranking Member on the Finance Committee of Parliament, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, has justified why the Minority in Parliament declined the Finance Minister’s request to further engage the Group on the 2022 budget on Friday.

According to Dr Ato Forson, it is prudent for such negotiations to occur before the approval of the budget, specifically a day or earlier; but not during its approval.

For him, this is key, due to earlier criticisms hurled at government by the Minority for the imposition of the electronic-transaction levy, which they described as “killer tax” among others.

He made this known on JoyNewsNewsfile on Saturday in response to Parliament’s decision to reject the 2022 budget.

Speaking to host, Samson Lardy Anyenini, Dr Ato Forson revealed that before the voice voting process to approve the budget, the Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka informed the Minority Group that Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta had requested to engage its leaders.

This request he said was declined due to reports in the media that the Finance Minister said he will find a way to win the cooperation of the Minority on the matter of the Electronic Transaction Levy, also known as e-Levy. Thus, an interaction with the entire House would be the best approach.

“The leadership said no. There is no reason. There has been a reportage from Joy that the Finance Minister had said that he knows how to engage the Minority to get them to change their position.

“So we felt that let him come and say it to all of us in the House so that everybody in this country will hear about it and our constituents will not have a feeling that probably we have been compromised that is why we are taking that decision. So if he has any position, let him say it to the people of Ghana,” he explained.

A motion was then filed for the Finance Minister to have a further engagement with the leadership of Parliament. This was however rejected by the Minority through a voice vote.

Dr Forson also explained this was because “our side, particularly the back bench, were not ready at any point in time to engage the Finance Minister.”

According to the Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam MP, the Finance Minister had his chance, made a prayer and insisted that further engagement must happen.

He, therefore, stated that “If they wanted to engage, you do this engagement prior to the approval of the budget of the day. You don’t do it when you are about to approve the budget, so that was the problem.”

In an interview with JoyNews on the sidelines of the Volta Fair, Mr Ofori Atta said he was hopeful that by the time the debate on the 2022 Budget comes to an end in Parliament, the Minority would have been convinced of the need to implement the e-Levy.

“In terms of everybody not liking taxes, there always will be that, so we have maybe a month of discussions with Parliament, but once the objective is clear, we’ll get to some efficiency.

“So it’s not an unfamiliar position with opposition, but I’m sure we all have the good sense of one language, the republic in hand, and we’ll get there as one people,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has said the Speaker’s ruling on the 2022 budget has no binding effect on Parliament.

The Minority MPs rejected the budget on Friday after the Majority Group staged a walk-out to protest what they describe as “bias” by Speaker Alban Bagbin.

The Majority is of the view “that the whole procedure was unconstitutional. As far as we are concerned, it’s null and void and has no binding effect on anybody.

“The motion on the budget, as far as we are concerned, hasn’t been pronounced on by Parliament, and it’s still standing in the name of the Finance Minister and in the fullness of time, a properly constituted house, not one presided over by the Rt Honorable Speaker will make the decision.”

However, Speaker Alban Bagbin insists that the allegations of bias are “unfounded” and therefore “should not be entertained.”

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