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Friday, July 30, 2021

Government backtracks, removes cap on Parliament’s budgetary allocation after threats by Speaker

Government has made a U-Turn by removing a cap placed on the budget of the legislature.

This comes after Speaker of the House, Alban Kingsford Bagbin threatened not to sign any documents required by the state until the cap on budgetary allocation was removed.

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Government had earlier slashed the House’s allocation by GHS190 million.

In a new correspondence read in Parliament on Wednesday, March 24, 2021, it came to light that GHS523 million in allocation had been approved for Parliament as against a request of GHS533 million.

The Speaker of Parliament, directed the Special Budget Committee of the house to begin work on the budget estimates of the parliamentary service for the 2021 financial year.

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This follows a favourable response Parliament received from the Executive regarding the budgetary allocation for the house.

Alban Bagbin, in reading the correspondence from the Presidency said, “the Government recommends that Parliament and the parliamentary service operates within the proposed budget above while government explores opportunity to increase the allocation in subsequent budgets when revenue improves and debt has stabilized. Accordingly, Parliament is respectfully requested to keep the estimates of Parliament and the parliamentary service within the expenditure proposed above to enable the government to contain expenditures within the overall fiscal space for 2021.”

The Speaker consequently asked the Special Budgets Committee to consider the letter in their work.

“I am drawing the attention of the Special Budgets Committee to the new recommendation and to urge the committee to consider the budget estimates for Parliament and the parliamentary service along those lines,” he said.

It would be recalled that earlier in March, the Speaker of Parliament vowed to resist attempts to cap the budgetary allocation of the House.

The Executive Secretary to the President, Nana Bediatuo Asante in a letter to Parliament informed the House of the decision to reduce Parliament’s budgetary allocation by over GHS190 million and that of the judiciary by over GHS70 million citing a lack of fiscal space.

But the Speaker rejected the move.

According to him, it was legally wrong and a step to weaken the oversight duties of Parliament.

“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 to negotiate during the deliberations of the budget before the House,” he said.

The Minority of Parliament subsequently declared its support for the speaker’s position.

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