The majority in parliament has dared its Minority counterpart to head to court over claim Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta breached financial regulation in reviewing the 2017 budget without recourse to Parliament.
The Minority is demanding the withdrawal of the 2018 budget from the House over the claims. Speaking during a debate on the 2018 budget in parliament, minority spokesperson on finance Cassiel Ato Forson explained Ofori-Atta failed to present his midyear review in the form of a motion to enable the House debate and approve the document but rather chose to do it through a statement.
According to him, it was a violation of the Public Finance Management Act.
“Mr. Speaker how can you revise a budget without the authority of Parliament? Mr. Speaker in my opinion, this budget must be rejected and be withdrawn immediately. Mr. Speaker, this budget must be rejected and be withdrawn immediately. Mr. Speaker, the Minister responsible for Finance cannot revise expenditures and revenue without parliamentary resolution,” Forson told parliament amid cheers from his minority colleagues.
The majority, however, disagrees with the assertion of the former deputy finance Minister. In an interview with Starr News’ Parliamentary Correspondent Ibrahim Alhassan, the chairman for the Finance committee of parliament Dr. Mark Assibey-Yeboah rubbished the call of the minority.
According to him, the Finance Minister breached no law in his presentation of the Midyear budget review in July this year.
“When we pass an appropriation (bill), we say that an amount, spending not exceeding, not exceeding. Which means the Minister of Finance can spend up to the appropriation. So if it is that he doesn’t spend up to the appropriation, does it have to come to Parliament? No! If it were the case that he exceeds the appropriation then he has to come to Parliament. So he has not exceeded the appropriation,” he argued.
Dr. Assibey-Yeboah is daring the minority to head to the Supreme Court if they feel strongly any wrong has been committed.
“In the midyear review of 31st July, we took the decision; mind you this is the first time the law asked the minister to come do a midyear review. So we decided that it is a statement and so it should not come by way of motion. So that’s what we agreed on. Now, if he is saying that that was unconstitutional and he stayed all this while waiting for a budget before to point it out then you are doing a disservice to the nation. So if it is unconstitutional we disagree. The proper forum to test that one is the Supreme Court.”
Asked whether the 2018 budget will be withdrawn as demanded by the Minority, the New Juaben South MP laughed the question off and said “Not that I think, yeah, I don’t think so. This is a very good budget and we are going full speed with its passage.”
The debate on the 2018 budget in Parliament which started yesterday will end on Friday.
Subsequently, the House is expected to pass the Appropriation Bill which will give government the legal backing to expense money from the Consolidated Fund. Government intends spending over Ghc 60bn in the 2018 budget which was presented in Parliament by the Finance Minister Ofori-Atta last week.
Source: Ghana/Starrfmonline.com/103.5FM/Ibrahim Alhassan