The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu, insists that his ruling that the Minority’s request for the approval of the 2022 budget on Tuesday, November 30, 2021, be set aside was clear and conclusive.
His comments followed some remarks by Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu in Parliament on Tuesday, December 7, 2021, suggesting that he [the Speaker] did not make a clear directive on the Minority’s motion for a rescission of the approved 2022 budget on December 1, 2021.
“We know that reference to the constitution and standing order must at all times be reflected so I had a difficulty with the directive that you gave because as far as I was concerned, I moved a motion, the motion was seconded by the Honourable Mahama Ayariga when the debate concluded. After the conclusion of the debate, yours is simply to put a question to us, nothing more.”
“More importantly, the decision of this house is not centered on someone’s imagined majority. It is about members present and available and they voting. Therefore I have difficulty with the directive you gave.”
He thus called on the Speaker to come clear on his earlier ruling “so we will know what step to take.”
Responding to this, the First Deputy Speaker said “whether or not the Minority thinks I was not entitled to rule is another matter. My point is I ruled. My ruling was interrupted and so it appears as though I did not. But my ruling did conclude and the records are available to prove that.”
Responding to this, the Minority Leader said he will report the First Deputy Speaker’s conduct “because he cannot operate the standing orders at his whims and caprices.”
Meanwhile, in his ruling on some revisions to the 2022 budget statement made by the Finance Minister, Joseph Osei-Owusu directed that the statement of modification presented by the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta be attached to the budget statement presented to the house on November 17 despite the Minority’s protest.
Among the revisions made by the Finance Minister, were the GHS 10 million allocated for feasibility studies on the Keta sea defence project, revision of Aker Energy-AGM Petroleum-GNPC deal, Agyapa from the budget among others.
On Wednesday, December 1, 2021, the Minority moved a motion requesting that, the approval of the 2022 budget should be set aside.
The caucus maintained that processes used for approving the budget were in violation of the Standing Orders of Parliament and the 1992 Constitution. But the Majority Caucus disagreed.
However, after a lengthy debate on the motion, the First Speaker, Joe Osei-Owusu, in his ruling explained that per the Constitution and the Standing Orders of the House, he together with the Second Deputy Speaker are members of Parliament but only to assist the Speaker of Parliament when the need arises.
He insisted that he was therefore not wrong in associating himself with the Majority side to approve the 2022 budget despite sitting in as the Speaker and thus shot down the Minority’s request.
“I am a member of Parliament the Second Deputy Speaker is also an MP and our role is to assist the Speaker in managing the house. So any attempts to read and interpret the constitution to include the deputy speakers is a misreading,” he said.
Shortly after this, the Minority held a media briefing, registering its displeasure over the turn of events.