The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has said he is not to blame for the contention happening in the House over the approval of the controversial electronic transaction levy (E-levy).
Speaking to former members of Parliament on Thursday, he clarified that the era when the ruling party holds the majority in Parliament and dictates, is over.
In view of this, he said new steps must be taken to ensure consensus building over government’s policies towards the development of the country.
According to Mr Alban Bagbin, he has made no alterations to the rules but rather “the game has changed and the rules must change.”
“In the 2020 elections, there was a change. Ghanaians decided that ‘no, this kind of overwhelming majority we no longer will support it. We will no longer allow Parliament to continue to be a rubberstamp of the Executive. The turbulence we are experiencing now is the attempt to make a change. It is not me changing the rules, the game has changed and the rules must change. You cannot work with the old rules to implement the new change.”
He added that a government that fails to heed to the voice of the masses is not practicing democracy. The Speaker insists that he will not be a part of such a government since he is only determined to serve the interest of the public.
“I keep on saying I conform to transform. What I am doing is to do all I can to support government to implement its agenda but not at the expense of the principles of democracy, not at the expense of the interest of the good people of Ghana.
“That I will not tolerate. It is not a government where you just come and say ‘this is what I want and it must be done.’ I say no, my interest is not covered. Can you put in my interest as a party, a society, region? Then you say let me consider. Then in another meeting you say no, I am not going to do it. That cannot be democracy, that cannot be consultation.”
His comments come as a response to claims by the Majority Leader and members of the Majority Group, that he, Alban Bagbin is to blame for the commotion that characterised the debate on the 2022 Budget.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu had alleged that the Speaker threatened Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta that he should either allocate ¢1.72 billion of the projected revenue to Parliament or have the Budget thrown out.
Speaking to the press on Thursday, the Suame MP stated, “we are where we are because in my view of the genesis of the presentation of this Budget, the day when this Budget came to be presented, we were in the chamber, and we all saw that after the Finance Minister had walked in, we had to be at the Speaker’s office for close to 1 hour. We were not coming out.
“Why weren’t we coming out? We were not coming out because we had a Speaker who told the Finance Minister that because he had not given Parliament an amount of ¢1.72 billion, that he the Speaker has requested the Finance Minister to give to Parliament, he the Speaker was going to ensure that the Budget was rejected. That is what happened that day.”
His claims have however been dispelled by Deputy Minority Leader in Parliament, James Klutse Avedzi, who says Alban Bagbin only questioned if the ¢510m Budget allocated to Parliament was enough for the House to perform its duties.
Interacting with Evans Mensah on Joy FM’s Top Story on Thursday, Mr. Klutse Avedzi explained that this was because the Speaker had already engaged the President to make a case for the judiciary’s budget and the legislature to be increased to 5% of the total Budget.
“This year, Parliament had made a proposal in terms of the request for a total of 2% of the Budget. So he was asking the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, how much has been approved for Parliament and the Minister said ¢510 million.”
“Speaker said if we made a request for ¢1.7 billion and you are giving us ¢510 million ‘do you think that can enable Parliament to do its work and perform well’? He never threatened that ‘if you don’t give me ¢1.7 billion, your budget will be rejected,” he stated.
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