Parliament approves 2016 budget
Parliament on Wednesday approved the proposed 2016 budget and financial statement of government, with emphasis to establish more Exim Banks to support the nation’s export drive.
After an almost two weeks of heated bi-partisan debate on the financial policy, the House okayed the fiscal document, which aims to consolidate the nation’s economic progress in the medium term.
Finance Minister Seth Terkper in his concluding remarks on the debate, gave plusses to the government for its achievements over the years but emphasised that government was adopting measures for borrowing to be done in a smarter way.
As he began his submission, shouts of “Nana Borrow”, to wit, king of borrowing, came from the Minority side of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), criticising the government for excessive borrowing and plunging the country into excessive debts.
Mr Terkper, in justifying the borrowing, said it was to provide the credit infrastructure to establish more Exim banks and sharpen Ghana’s ability to provide guarantees and make exports healthy.
“Ghana must have its own Exim banks…we need to have effective export credit systems,” Mr Terkper said.
The Finance Minister said Ghana’s growth rate which the Minority says was declining is “higher than some of the advanced countries.”
The final day of the debate saw both the Majority and Minority leaders arguing for or against the performance of government, generating some heckling and name-calling, creating points of orders which attracted caution from Speaker Doe Adjaho, who threatened to name and ask the Marshall of Parliament to walk them out of the chamber.
After Minority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu had criticised the government’s handling of the economy, which he said has brought untold hardships on the Ghanaian and eroded the gains that the previous NPP administration had made in streamlining the economy, Majority Leader Alban Bagbin said the 2016 budget was good for the people of Ghana, “a step forward to achieve a just and free society enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.”
When there was much noise in the House, with both sides shouting themselves down, Mr Bagbin slipped by refereeing to some members on the Minority side as “hot heads”, for which when he was pressed further mentioned Mr Isaac Kwame Asiamah, MP for Atwima Mponua as an example, a label Mr Asiamah vehemently opposed.
This brought some commotion in the House, with some members hurling insults at one another, necessitating the Speaker to intervene and call both sides of the House to order, cautioning that “the whole world is watching the behaviour of the legislators.”
“I refer to both sides of the House…I have seen a lot of people misbehaving today, putting up disorderly behaviour on the floor.”
On the directive of the Speaker, Mr Bagbin withdrew the “hothead” tag he gave Mr Asiamah, and as he concluded his submission, the majority side shouted “Yea Yea”, with the Minority side responding “Shame, Shame.”
The House finally ratified the 2016 budget. The House is expected to soon pass the Appropriation Bill.