The Editor-in-Chief for the New Crusading Guide, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, says the prolonged disagreement and controversies surrounding the approval of the 2022 budget was unnecessary.
He said members of the Majority and Minority Caucuses in Parliament could have used the various Parliamentary committees to resolve most of the outstanding issues that fueled misunderstandings between them.
The Finance Minister announced in a media briefing some concessions and modifications that were made to the 2022 budget after the Minority had raised issues about portions of it.
But on his return from medical leave, Speaker Alban Bagbin called on the Finance Minister to re-appear before Parliament to re-lay the modifications that were captured in his letter addressed to the Speaker.
Kweku Baako believes the recent circumstances surrounding the approval of the fiscal policy document, which were later referred to the parliamentary committees, were, perhaps, not addressed through the appropriate channels.
Speaking in an interview on Newsfile, Saturday, he said “when a budget is approved, even unanimously, subsequently it goes through those committee stages.”
“For instance, something like the E-levy will come in the form of a bill and they all change, they don’t remain the same in terms of exactitude. By the end of the day, when it comes passing the Appropriation Bill to make it an act, it is not the same, some changes would have happened.”
“In this case, there had been an earlier letter on modifications to the Speaker in his absence. Now when the Speaker returned and made the statement that he made, the impression I had was that the Finance Minister was to return, perhaps to modify the modification.”
“I’m asking whether that happened. If he did, then it means that it was in consonance with what the Speaker was saying. If he did not and they relied on the old letter of modification, what was all the noise about?” he quizzed.
According to him, “there should have been no real tension and controversy in the sense that the members of Parliament would have had the opportunity to use the Committee level dealing with the estimates and the Appropriation Bill becoming an act to modify that very budget that was supposedly rejected.”
Parliament, on Friday, December 17 approved the Appropriation Bill 2021, giving the government the permission to spend an amount of GH¢145.5 billion for its operations.
It is currently not clear what the status of the 2022 budget is because Speaker Bagbin had earlier agreed for a motion to be moved to overturn the rejection of the 2022 budget done by the Minority.
This has caused many to wonder the rationale behind the passage of the Appropriation Bill.
Abdul Malik Kweku Baako questioned the basis on which that action was taken on Friday.
“I’m not too sure what’s going on; an Appropriation Bill passed, on what basis? There must be an approved budget before you trigger committees working on estimates, appropriations in order for a final point about passing the Appropriation Bill,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the E-levy is still in stalemate as the both caucuses are yet to reach a consensus on the exact rate to charge.