Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has indicated that the Speaker of Parliament does not have any power under the law to reject the budget.
Speaker Alban Bagbin has threatened to reject the budget because there has been a slash in the budget for the Legislative and Judicial arms of government.
In an interview monitored by GhanaWeb, the Majority Leader indicated that the Speaker of Parliament should have engaged the leadership of the House before making those remarks to the house of Parliament.
“I think that this is not really a matter that, honestly, the Speaker should have spoken to in [the] plenary. I think that he should have continued the engagement. After all, I’m the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs; I’m also the Majority Leader. This is not a matter for the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry though but it is for the Majority Leader,” Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said.
He added, “Maybe he could have sought my intervention to engage the presidency. Truth is Parliament cannot make a request which indeed and in truth may perhaps go outside what the basket of the national resources can contain. There is a reason why when we made the request, there will be this backstage consultation.”
Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu admitted that there was not much engagement before the government came up with the budget slash for the two main arms, hence Alban Bagbin’s public outburst.
When asked if the Speaker of Parliament has the authority to issue threats of not accepting a government’s budget proposal, the Majority Leader who is also MP for Suame in the Ashanti Region noted:
“Well, if I have to be blunt, the Speaker would not have the authority to do that but I’m saying that if there is a misunderstanding, we can resolve it without escalating the misunderstanding.”
He further said that he was sure that the budget will go through successfully, but there is a need for the leadership of Parliament to meet and have further discussion on it.
Speaker Alban Sumana Bagbin has issued a stern warning to Committees which will consider the 2021 budget estimates against approving such estimates with the figures offered by the president.
According to him, he will not forward the appropriation bill to the president for his assent when passed if negotiations are not done to find a common ground over the decision by the president to reduce the Appropriation of Parliament and the Judiciary.
“The budget is not for the executive, we have the final power to approve or disapprove and so what the constitution has done is for them to make recommendations and negotiate during the deliberations of the budget before the House,” Bagbin told the House.
“It is not for the executive to impose a ceiling on the Judiciary or Parliament, they have to do the proper thing. And so during the considerations of the [budget] estimate, particularly the committees concerned, take that on board and at the end of the day come and explain to us the negotiated figure and not the ceiling that has been given by the President; that is not the [intention] of the 1992 constitution.”
The Speaker of Parliament added, “If you do otherwise, I as your Speaker will not affirm any letter for submission to the president for his assent. I mean what I am saying.”
The Speaker during the presentation of the 2021 budget last Friday directed the caretaker Finance Minister Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu and the Vice President to convey to the president that the slash in the budget estimates for the two institutions will not be entertained.