The Speaker of Parliament, Alban S. K. Bagbin, has urged Members of Parliament (MPs) not to politicise the discussions and debate ahead of the consideration and approval of the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the government.
He said given that the budget's primary goal touched on common issues affecting every Ghanaian, legislators should collectively commit to fixing the economic turbulence in the country.
“If there was any time in the history of this country that Ghanaians are looking up to the Legislature — not the Executive — for solutions to the challenges confronting us as a people, it is now and we cannot afford to fail them,” he said
Speaking at the opening of the 2023 post-budget workshop for MPs and supporting staff of Parliament in Ho last Saturday, Mr Bagbin stressed the need for MPs to consign partisanship to the background and demonstrate nationalism in the decisions they took and the issues they supported.
“We have a fine opportunity today to assert the independence and relevance of Parliament in the governance of this country else posterity will remember us as the crop of legislators who sacrificed Ghana on the altar of partisanship,” he said.
The two-day event, which also attracted the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, was aimed at equipping the participants with the skills required for scrutinising the budget statement and engage in meaningful debate on the budget from tomorrow, until Friday before it is approved.
Ghanaians looking up to us
The Speaker noted that the focus of governance of the country was now on Parliament, a development that had never happened before.
He said unlike the past when the people were always looking to the Executive for salvation, today Ghanaians seemed to have lost hope in the Executive as they were now looking up to Parliament.
He, therefore, expressed his unhappiness at the manner in which legislators too readily assumed that everything must have two sides and that it was their responsibility to be on one side or the other.
Mr Bagbin also said one other deficiency in the role of MPs as overseers of the purse was post legislative scrutiny.
He said legislators needed to do more than just approve the budget, pass the Appropriations Act, and sit back and just watch the government spend.
“We must increase our monitoring of government expenditure to ensure the right priorities are sequentially taken and value for money becomes an essential ingredient of the lives of the governed in this country,” he said.
He indicated that Parliament must ensure that the interventions in the budget were implemented as intended.
Mr Ofori-Atta, on his part, said given the enormous challenges facing the economy, there was critical need for partnership to help Ghana’s economy recover quickly.
The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, called for a long-term national development plan that would lead Ghana to the path of sustainable development devoid of politics.
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, expressed worry over the gradual erosion of public faith and confidence in elected officials, from the President, Ministers and MPs, accusing the government of failing to keep its promises to the people.