Mark Assibey Yeboah
The Majority in Parliament has dared the Minority to proceed to court for redress if they are convinced that the 2018 Budget breaches the laws of the country.
This follows the Minority’s firm admonition to government to withdraw the budget during the first day of debate, because they claim the Finance Minister reviewed aspects of the last budget in July without a resolution of the house; an act they term unlawful and must lead to nullification of the 2018 budget.
The Chairman of Parliament’s Finance Committee, Dr. Mark Assibey Yeboah however argued that the Minority will be doing a disservice to the country if they debate the budget without seeking clarity in the courts regarding the supposed illegality with the budget.
“When we pass an appropriation, we say that ‘spending not exceeding’, meaning the Minister of Finance can spend up to the appropriation, so if it is that he does not spend up to appropriation does he have to come back to Parliament ? No! If it were the case that he exceeds the appropriation, then he has to come back to Parliament, but he has not exceeded the appropriation. In the mid year review on 31st July, we decided that it is a statement and should not come by way of motion, but if he [Ato Forson] is saying that it was unconstitutional and he has stayed all this while waiting for a budget before, then you are doing a disservice to the nation, and the proper forum to test that one is the Supreme Court. ”
Meanwhile, the Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson, has been making the case of the Minority as to why the budget is illegal and should be withdrawn.
He stated that, government had reviewed some key economic targets without recourse to the House, adding that “the Minister responsible for Finance cannot revise the expenditures and revenue without parliamentary resolution.”
Minority’s call for budget withdrawal flawed – Kwaku Kwarteng
But Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr. Kwaku Kwarteng however dismissed these suggestions on Eyewitness News, saying the Minority’s argument is flawed since government cannot premise its budget on the previous one passed by Parliament while ignoring the realities on the ground.
“The point that we should have rather premised the 2018 budget on the 2017 budget passed by Parliament and we should have ignored the realities and we should have not built future plans on the basis of today’s actuals is a very strange proposition.
“ You do your budget on the basis of ‘actuals’ because going forward, you want to plan on the basis of reality so for anyone to suggest that because you did midyear review and Parliament did not approve of it, then you are unable to do 2018 budget statement because you would have premised it on the mid year review projections is flawed,” Mr. Kwarteng argued.