Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta on Thursday defied hecklings and jeers and went on an almost four hours presentation of the 2019 Budget and Economic Policy of the Government to Parliament, assuring Ghanaians of better and more prosperous times ahead.
He christened the budget, presented on the authority of President Nana Addo Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo, “Mpuntuo Budget” (Development Budget), to the House, and affectionately called it “Accelerator Budget”, to the chagrin of members on the Minority Side who nicknamed it “Ahokyere Budget” (Hardship Budget) “Propaganda Budget” and “Made in China Budget”, among other negative names.
The Minister, sporting a designer long-sleeved white Kaftan shirt over white pair of trousers, arrived in the company of Vice President Mahamadu Bawumia, at about 1040 hours, moments after the House had begun proceedings with prayers, by the Speaker Rev Prof Aaron Michael Oquaye, invoking divine blessings on Ghana and Africa.
Speaker Oquaye steered proceedings to a successful completion as he gavelled and shouted “Order, Order” amidst hecklings, boos and jeers from members of the Minority Side of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), who did not agree with aspects of the budget presentation.
There was an atmosphere, and scenes of conviviality between the two politically divergent sides, moments before and after the presentation of the budget statement.
The Minority intermittently flaunted placards that registered their disagreement with the budget, and the Minister wasted no time to sip water to cool himself as he delivered the marathon statement.
In the chamber to listen to the presentation former Finance Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo; Trade and Industry Minister Alan Kyerematen; Professors Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, and Kwesi Yankah, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation and Minister of State in Charge of Tertiary Education respectively; Mr Ibrahim Awal, Minister of Business Development; and Mr Rockson Ayine Bukari, Minister of State at the Office of the President.
The Ghana News Agency (GNA) spotted also Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, the General Secretary of the NDC; Dr Hassan Ayariga, the 2016 presidential candidate of the All People’s Congress (APC), Mr. Jacob Osei Yeboah, an independent candidate for Ghana's presidential elections in 2012 and 2016; and Mr Akwasi Addai Odike, presidential candidate of the United Front Party (UFP), in Ghana’s 2012 and 2016 general elections.
The title of the 2018 Budget was: ‘A Stronger Economy for Jobs and Prosperity, touched on areas of activity of the Government, and as the Minister announced the creation of employment for the youth the Nation Builders Corp, just then a group of young persons, in the public gallery went on their feet as evidence of the delivery.
The Marshal of the House was quick to alert them to resume their seats.
Mr Ofori Atta made mockery of some members on the Minority Side who had in recent times been riding bicycles in protest of the increases in the price of petroleum products, and ironically commended them for making a contribution towards the campaign on the environment.
“The nation is moving forward, and moving forward in the right direction,” the Minister said, to which the Minority responded “Borrow Borrow Budget.”
And on the railway sector, the Minister said: “2019 will re-launch the railway system in Ghana.”
And so the 2019 Budget was presented to the nation to offer hope, as Vice President Bawumia listened on to an appreciative Speaker who explained to the House that the Vice President could be present and contribute to debates in the House, but however would not take part in voting.