The Majority leader in Parliament has described the vote of the Minority Caucus against the approval of the 2021 budget statement as “unfortunate and disappointing”.
According to Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, he was in utter shock when the Minority requested a headcount vote to determine if the budget statement would be approved or not.
“I thought their conduct today was unfortunate because I have been in some discussions with them. They have intimated that they were not happy with certain aspects of the budget. In particular the imposition of taxes.”
He revealed to JoyNews that both leaders in Parliament came to an agreement that the statement would be passed while the necessary concerns are addressed.
The Suame MP further intimated to Kwesi Parker-Wilson that the Minority made some grievances by not all together condemning the imposition of the taxes.
“So they said they were going to push for voting but I said that by our rules if you vote; voice votes, it will not register that even the NDC is against it.
“So what it is that must be done is for them to express strongly on the floor that on this or these item(s), 123, we want to register our reservations so we will not go with the government on that path with the imposition of taxes, the timing we believe is wrong. So I said to them I thought that was a better option and they agreed with me,” he added.
Contrary to the Suame MP’s account that described a consensus between both parties, the NDC Caucus today challenged the Speaker’s decision on a voice vote.
Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu cited order 1132 to challenge the Speaker’s decision and requested a headcount vote.
His request was granted and after the headcount voting process, the ‘yes’ recorded in the House were 137 while 134 voted no.
Some members of the Majority Group who spoke to JoyNews also expressed disappointment and accused the Minority of political grandstanding.
They explained that major activities in the country would have come to a halt if the statement had not been passed by the House.
“The repercussion is that if this budget was rejected, it would have been something else. The assumption is that by the end of the year if we were not able to come out with a new budget for it to be accepted by Parliament, it means that from April 1, the nation cannot work.
“In other words, nothing can happen in the country. Government workers cannot be paid, everything cannot run well in Parliament.”
Meanwhile, some NDC MPs say they shall continue to push for headcount votes should they identify concerns in some policies presented by the government.
“If government fails to convince us that they are doing it in the interest of the nation, we will vote against it.”
Parliament is expected to resume sitting on Saturday, March 20, to discuss the estimates of the budget statement.