The Speaker of Parliament Alban Sumana Bagbin has issued a stern warning to Committees which will consider the 2021 budget estimates against approving such estimates with the figures offered by the president.
The speaker further disclosed that he will not forward the appropriation bill to the president for his assent when passed if negotiations are not done to find a common ground over the decision by the Presidency to reduce the budget by Parliament and the Judiciary.
“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 negotiate during the deliberations of the budget before the House.
“It is not for the executive to impose a ceiling on the judiciary or parliament, they have to do the proper thing. And so during the considerations of the [budget] estimate, particularly the committees concerned, take that on board and at the end of the day come and explain to us the negotiated figure and not the ceiling that has been given by the president, that is not the internment of the 1992 constitution.”
The Speaker of Parliament added, “If you do otherwise, I as your Speaker will not affirm any letter for submission to the President for his assent, I mean what I am saying.”
The Speaker’s threat comes after President Akufo-Addo decided to slash budget estimates for the Judiciary and the Legislature. The speaker during the presentation of the 2021 budget last Friday directed the caretaker Finance Minister Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu and the Vice President to convey to the President that any slash in the budget estimates for the two institutions will not be entertained.
In response, President Akufo-Addo through his executive secretary Nana Asante Bediatuo announced to the speaker a 77 million cedis slash in the estimate presented by the Judiciary and Judicial Service and over 119 million from the estimate of the Legislature.
The presidency cites current economic challenges for the decision.
In a sharp rebuttal, the speaker in a letter dispatched to the Jubilee House indicated that the constitution bars the executive from revising estimates presented by the judiciary and the Legislature since they are equal arms of government.
The Speaker cited Articles 179 (3) and (5) and Article 127 of the 1992 constitution.
When the matter returned to the floor, minority leader Haruna Iddrisu hailed the speaker for the move while arguing the law is on the side of the Speaker.
Majority leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, however, cautioned against any antagonistic posture from parliament. According to him, the mid-year budget review could cater for the demand by the speaker.
But Hon. Bagbin returned to reiterate that the constitution must be respected and will ensure that happens.