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General News Fri, 16 Nov 2001

Parliament endorses mid year budget review

Parliament on Thursday endorsed the mid-year review of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of government for 2001 by a voice count after three days of heated debate that drew furry and anxiety from members.

The Majority and the Minority sharply disagreed on the legitimacy of the pattern of expenditure presented in the review.

The Minority sought in vain to amend the original motion calling on the Minister of Finance to submit new estimates for approval by the House since in their view, the government had unlawfully overspent and altered its expenditure pattern.

Mr Doe Adjaho, the Minority Chief Whip, said original budgetary estimates brought to the House conflicted with estimates logged in the review.

He said it was unconstitutional for the government to overspend or even alter its expenditure pattern without the consent of the House.

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He quoted Article 179 clause 8 of the Constitution saying it empowered Parliament to approve of any expenditure made by the government.

"For instance in the original appropriation bill, 1.2 billion cedis was allocated for contingency but now 112 billion cedis has so far been spent” he pointed out.

"This House is being reduced to a rubber stamp. If we allow this motion to pass it would be unfair to the Constitution. We have to perform our watchdog role."

Mr Steve Akorli, NDC-Ho West, said, "there is a kind of executive fait creeping into the system and undermining the laws of the land".

He said the Executive by presenting figures on expenditure, which were quite different from the original budget, was a clear violation of the law.

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Mr. Albert Kan Dapaah, Minister of Energy, said the Minority had got everything wrong because government had not breached any law or regulation.

He said government had not overspent adding that the alteration it did on the expenditure pattern was in consonance with the Financial Administration Regulation.

"The power to allow this action is vested in Chief Directors and other chief civil servants at the ministries." Mr. Adjaho said the Constitution was the supreme law of the land and no law or regulation supersedes it.

Mr. Yaw Osafo Maafo, Minister of Finance, said the minority was ignorant of the true situation saying government was acting within the confines of the law.

Source: .