The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has described the 2024 budget statement and economic policy of government as “critical” and called on Members of Parliament (MPs) to listen to the voice of the people in decisions they make on the budget.
At the opening of a post-budget workshop for MPs in Accra on Saturday, ahead of the commencement of the budget debate today, the Speaker said Members must bear the citizens in mind as it is their duty to use their portfolios to improve upon the welfare of the people.
“Even though we see this as the usual business of Parliament, this time around, it is more critical than before. This budget is a critical budget and I want us to take time to analyse the budget because leadership have discussed with me and I will have enough time for you to deliberate on the budget. We are therefore expecting that you will not come and be making political statements, not propaganda. Please listen to the voices of our people and do a critical analysis of the budget,” the Speaker said.
The Majority Leader and MP for Suame, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, entreated the participants to be mindful of the interests of their constituents and make decisions to satisfy those aspirations.
“As the people’s representatives it behoves us to ensure that the budget optimally matches the nation’s needs with the available resources. The budget affects all of us. However, a very important component of parliament’s power of the purse is to ensure that the budget addresses the needs of women and men equitably and is supportive of vulnerable groups in society.
“In this House, we have often expressed that we all need roads, schools, health facilities and all those depend on the way government raises revenues and allocates monies raised to meet various competing demands.”
On his part, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, Minority Leader and MP for Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam, cautioned government against what he called unbridled election year spending that could further worsen the economic conditions of the country.
According to Dr Forson, 2024 as has often been with election years, there would be attempts by government to relegate fiscal discipline to the backburner by satisfying unplanned campaign promises and parliament must rise to prevent that.
He said on many fronts, including the temptation by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to fulfill some of his “unrealistic promises” was high and “Parliament must dissect the budget into the minutest details…with an eagle’s eye and ensure that the Government spends within the allowable fiscal space”.
Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, pledged of government’s commitment to be fiscally disciplined in pursuing its development agenda and called on parliament to “pass the proposed measures in the 2024 Budget and on time”.
He said government would consolidate and complete on-going infrastructure projects to improve productivity and welfare of the people and demonstrate its resolve to build a robust infrastructure network.
With the 2024 elections in mind, he said government would adequately resource the Electoral Commission, the National Commission for Civic Education and other governance agencies to reinforce the pillars of Ghana’s democratic process, ensuring transparency and fairness.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI