Today January 18, 2022

Budget debate: Bagbin erred in asking Finance Minister to leave Parliament – Richard Sky

A private legal practitioner and broadcaster, Richard Dela Sky, has said the Speaker of Parliament showed bad faith by ordering the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta to vacate the chamber during the final debate on the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy in the House last Friday.

Mr. Sky said the Speaker’s order was wrong since the constitution allows for the Finance Minister to be present in Parliament during discussions on the budget.

“I had difficulty with the ordering of the Minister [of Finance] to leave because the Minister is entitled constitutionally to be in Parliament,” Sky said on Eyewitness News on Monday, November 29, 2021.

A disagreement over a directive by the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, for non-MPs to vacate the Chamber following a request for a division after a voice vote in the House saw members on the majority side of Parliament staging a walkout during processes to approve the 2022 budget.

Parliament had through a voice vote rejected a request by the Minister of Finance to meet the leadership of the House before the approval of the 2022 budget.

Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo Markin, challenged the Speaker’s interpretation of the voice vote and called for a division.

Mr. Bagbin thus directed that, per orders of the House, non-MPs had to vacate the Chamber during the division process.

While vacating the Chamber, the Majority MPs demanded that the General Secretary of the opposition National Democratic Congress, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, who was sitting in the public gallery at the time, must also exit the House. He ignored this request.

This infuriated the Majority MPs who walked out of the Chamber, leaving only members on the Minority side.

Mr. Sky said the request for Asiedu Nketiah to leave the Chamber was also problematic.

“The Finance Minister was told by the Speaker to leave the Chamber with all other persons who were not qualified to be in the chamber, and that provoked the majority side. They asked that Johnson Asiedu Nketiah should leave. That is far-fetched. I found that completely unacceptable. He was in the public gallery. He was an observer. Unless you want to say, everybody in the public gallery should leave,” Mr. Sky said.

Source: Modern Ghana

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