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MPs to debate 2023 budget statement tomorrow

Members of Parliament (MPs) will begin debate on the 2023 Budget statement tomorrow, November 29, 2022,

Government is hard pressed with time to get the fiscal statement, passed with the hope that the self-imposed austerity measures to shore up revenue and cut down expenditure will boost the ongoing talks with the International Monetary Fund for a bail out.

Minority MPs have already signaled, their opposition to some taxes and are demanding facts and figures to back some claims made but the Speaker of Parliament Alban S. K. Bagbin, is appealing to the House to put Ghana first in the deliberations ahead of the possible passage of appropriation bills.

The Speaker who was addressing the opening session of the 2023 post-budget workshop for MPs and supporting Parliamentary staff at Ho over the weekend, noted with concern the prevailing economic crisis and appealed to members consign partisanship to the background and demonstrate nationalism in the decisions they will take.

“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 workshop, which also attracted the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, was aimed at providing additional input that informed policies announced and to help participants equip themselves adequately to scrutinize the budget.
“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

Meanwhile the Majority group in Parliament remains optimistic.
Deputy Majority Leader Alexander Afenyo-Markin, who also addressed the 2023 Budget said the debate will focus on Finance, Agriculture, Trade, and Industry on Tuesday.

He added that on Wednesday the House will turn attention to Communications, Energy, Roads, Works, Housing, Sanitation, and Environment as captured in the budget.

MINORITY DEMANDS

Minority MPs shave already flagged aspects of the budget.

They are demanding the suspension of the 2.5% additional VAT rate citing worsening hardship.

The NDC MPs also want a further reduction of the E-levy rate to 0.5% and a threshold exemption for E-Levy.
Addressing the event, Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu bemoaned the decision to freeze public sector employment and cut down admissions to teaching and nursing schools.

He warned that the policy will further exacerbate the already worst unemployment canker.

The Tamale South MP warned though his side is willing to support the government’s effort in resuscitating the economy, the 2.5% increment in the VAT rate will be treated with the NPP’s Kume Preko demonstration against the introduction of the tax in 1995 in mind.

He also served notice especially to concerned Ghanaians that the Minority will thoroughly scrutinize the expenditures going into the National Cathedral.

“Ghana is a secular state and a Republic which guarantees freedom of faith, freedom of conscience, and freedom of religion but when you make a budgetary allocation for the construction of a national cathedral at GH¢80 million, we must know what is the total cost of that project, how were procurements undertaken to assure value for money, what is the duration of the project, how much will it cost the State and when will the project be completed.”

It will be recalled that the Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudjeto, in a facebook post last week on the 2023 budget said government after using the back door has again made huge allocations for the President, Nana Akufo Addo’s project.

“After all the lawlessness, deception, falsehood, illogicality and dishonesty about the National Cathedral being a Contingency Project; the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia/Ofori-Atta government has finally been forced to do what is right by capturing a specific allocation of GH¢80million at page 195 in the 2023 Budget for parliamentary approval,” …the face book post read.

Meanwhile, Majority leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu however called on the NDC MPs to support the government’s effort in addressing the economic crisis.

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