Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader in Parliament, has stated that the opposition legislators are not obstructing government business in Parliament as a result of the House’s equal numbers.
Mr Iddrisu added that the minority has showed devotion to the people’s collective objectives and, most crucially, the republic’s constitution from the commencement of this parliament.
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He claimed that as a result of their adherence to these democratic values, the MPs had been targeted by otherwise concerned members of their own political party on several occasions.
“Any suggestion that this minority group wants to block government business at every chance is thus without foundation,” he said in a statement.
His remark comes at a time when Speaker of Parliament Alaban Bagbin has pledged not to preside over a House that obstructs government business.
In Parliament on Thursday December 16, Mr Bagbin said “Hon. Members, to conclude on these matters, let me reiterate my solemn pledge to the people of Ghana which I canvassed in my first formal communication to this House.
“I would not superintend over a Parliament to frustrate Government business, But, I will equally not preside over a weak House or be tagged as an errand boy of the Executive arm of government.
“This House is fully focused in discharging its mandate and will do so without any fear or favour, affection or ill-will in ensuring the ultimate best interests of the Ghanaian people are served.
“Let us continue to strengthen our channels of communication, foster dialogue, encourage broader stakeholder consultation and allow the processes we have adopted for our burgeoning democracy to thrive.”
The Asantehene, Otumfou Osei Tutu II, had also asked Parliament not to frustrate government in its role of implementing policies.
The Asantehene made the statement at Manhyia on Sunday December 12 after the debate on the 2022 budget statement was characterised by back and forth between the Majority and Minority legislators.
“It is to our good that our representatives in Parliament subject national budget to the most vigorous scrutiny and to call for changes. Government must always also have the humility to acknowledge and embrace useful inputs from all sources.
“But our representatives need to also bear in mind that it is not the role to either determine policy for the executive or to frustrate them from performing their legitimate duty,” he said.
Mr Iddrisu’s statement said “The minority group in parliament have since the beginning of this parliament demonstrated fidelity to the collective aspirations of the people of this country and most importantly to the constitution of the republic. In commitment to these democratic tenets, the group on some occasions have been the subject of attacks by otherwise concerned members of its own political party. It is therefore without basis for anyone to suggest that this minority group seeks to obstruct government business at the least opportunity.
“On the contrary, we have at every instance demonstrated commitment to good governance, the 1992 constitution and the standing orders of parliament. An objective overview of the group’s stance on the current budget amplifies our fidelity to the national interest.
“Right after the Minister for Finance presented the government’s budget on behalf of the President, the minority group through its leadership indicated its opposition to aspects of the budget and called for a review, failure of which would compel the minority to reject the budget. Consistent with this call for a review which were not heeded to, the minority got the required votes to reject the budget policy on the 26th of November 2021.
The Majority responded to this lawful rejection with an irregular and illegal procedure purporting to rescind the earlier rejection and the nation looked on as they debased, in their usual fashion, democratic tenets.
“The minority’s efforts to reverse such rape of the constitution and gross disrespect of parliament’s standing orders were frustrated by an extremely partisan majority group and 1st Deputy Speaker.
Nonetheless the Minority group’s action compelled an engagement with the finance minister who have since made all concessions but one(The Killer E-Levy) on behalf of the President. He has written officially to parliament to modify the initial budget statement to reflect these concessions.
“Taking into consideration these concessions and modifications to the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy, the Minority have since examined the sector ministries estimates, but remain vehemently opposed to that which the government remains adamant to withdraw, the killer E-Levy of 1.75%, which undoubtedly will subject Ghanaians to immense financial pressure and further thwart our nation’s ease of doing business and digitization drive.
“The Appropriation Bill for 2021 to cater for ordinary government business for 2022 has just been passed. The killer E-Levy bill has yet to be considered by Parliament. For the avoidance of doubt the Minority continues its opposition to the e-levy.
We in the Minority remain committed to exploring lawful and democratic means of getting the government to abandon this insensitive, obnoxious and regressive tax. Absolutely nothing can be more Ghanaian and progressive at this stage, than a demand that Government consider the economic challenges of the ordinary Ghanaian in rolling out taxes. We shall continue to hold government accountable and do so in the best interest of this country at all times. Thank you.”