Member of Parliament for Tamale North, Alhassan Suhuyini, has disclosed that the decision by the finance minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, to write a letter to the Speaker of parliament is alien to some members of parliament.
According to him, per parliament’s standing orders, it is the President that can write to the Speaker and communicate to parliament through him; however, he did not know of ministers using that same medium of transmitting their message. Mr Suhuyini explained that what ministers are required to do is to appear before the floor, seek permission from the speaker and make a statement on government’s policies.
“Overall, I think that what the minister did yesterday, as members of parliament, is alien to us. Clearly, we have procedures that are guided by our standing orders in the 1992 constitution. He indicated yesterday that he has written to the Speaker of parliament. I have been struggling to find any standing order to back that kind of procedure when any document before the House, laid by a minister, has to be modified. So, if this is a modification to the budget of government… it has to go through the process of the minister himself appearing”.Mr Alhassan Suhuyini
Touching on the modifications made to the 2022 budget, the Tamale North legislator intimated those various demands were made by different members of parliament on the minority side, but the minority leader, representing the caucus, “distilled” them down to five main issues on which they wanted to negotiate given the opportunity.
Finance Minister’s letter to Speaker justified
On his part, the Deputy finance minister, Dr John Kumah, revealed that the finance minister’s letter directed to the Speaker of parliament is well within his rights. In his defence of the finance minister’s letter, he noted that when concerns were raised on the floor of parliament, Mr Ofori-Atta sought for an opportunity from the Speaker for “adjournment” in order to properly lay those issues before parliament, which didn’t happen. On the day of the budget approval, Dr Kumah explained that the finance minister emphasized his “readiness” to bring all the “amendments” to reflect the proposals from the minority group as well.
“One of the formal ways where you can bring such things to parliament is to write to the speaker and once the speaker gets the communication, I believe it will be put before parliament and the necessary processes will be formed”.Dr John Kumah
Commenting on the reason why the e-levy, which has been a subject for debate in the country wasn’t part of the seven modifications made to the 2022 budget, Dr Kumah noted that the finance minister has indicated he is still in consultation on the e-levy and there was no “consensus” yet.
“I believe… before the bill is actually presented to parliament, that firm announcement will be made in terms of what is the range? People say they want 0%, some say they want 1%… It’s not only about affordability, a number of factors will be taken into consideration in coming to the conclusion on what is good for our country and what we can all do to build this country together”.Dr John Kumah
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