The Majority in Parliament has said that the 2024 budget statement stands approved by the voice vote that took place in Parliament on Wednesday, November 29 until the headcount that the speaker Alban Bagbin has asked the Business Committee to reschedule for next week, says otherwise.

In Parliament on Thursday, November 30, the speaker, in asking the Business Committee to reschedule the headcount, indicated that the matter is not up for debate.

“We don’t have to debate this matter. It is a matter of record and I direct that the business committee should reschedule the issue for next week for us to finally take a decision on the budget.

“The budget statement and economic policy of the government for the year 2024 is still before the house and so the business committee will reschedule it for next week,” he said.

Parliament could not approve the budget on Wednesday, November 29 after the Majority side of the house boycotted proceedings, making it the second time they are walking out on their own budget after they first did so on the 2022 budget statement which introduced the e-levy.

A statement issued by Deputy Majority Leader Alexander Afenyo-Markin on Thursday, November 30 said “Following the conclusion of the debate on the budget yesterday, the Speaker, as per the established protocol of the House, was to put the question regarding the approval of the policy and principles underpinning the budget. After a period of deliberation, the Speaker posed the question and announced that the “ayes” had it. Subsequently, the Deputy Minority Leader, Armah Kofi-Buah, rose on account of Order 113(2) to contest what he (Mr. Armah Kofi-Buah) deemed as a ruling by the Rt. Hon. Speaker. As a result of the challenge, he called for a headcount. This prompted an intervention from the Majority Leader and Deputy Majority Leader.

“They raised procedural issues in respect of the application brought before the Speaker. Despite the procedural objections raised, the Speaker declined to acknowledge these concerns and expressed his intention to proceed with a headcount as demanded. At this juncture, the leadership of the majority caucus insisted on their readiness to submit to the headcount that was being sought.

“The headcount, a process where members indicating “aye” or “no” rise to be counted, typically takes approximately 10 minutes. The results are then tallied by table officers and presented to the Speaker, who announces the outcome. Instead of sticking to the request of the headcount, the Speaker then said that he was drawing the attention of the House to the possibility of resorting to a division, and indeed the Speaker then called for a division. This came as a surprise to Members of the Majority Caucus, since no such application for a division had been presented to the Speaker.

“The decision to call for a division was certainly not the initial application. Leadership of the Majority,-well aware that under our rules, being absent during a headcount disqualifies a member from being recorded present, whereas in a division, absent members who rush in can be counted as participants, even if they were not present when the question was initially put- ; moved to halt this process that would have allowed some of the minority MPs who were outside Accra at the time to be able to proceed to Parliament to be counted, even though the Majority was fully aware that it was not going to give the minority any advantage.

“This departure from the call for a headcount generated heat and was set to frustrate government business; at the same time undermining the sanctity of the parliamentary processes. Since 1993, Parliament has never resorted to a division in making decisions. The Majority concluded the choice for a division was unfair under the circumstance, leading to their decision to stage a walkout.

“It is essential to note that despite the Speaker’s indication that the ‘ayes’ had prevailed, and despite a petition presented to him, a petition that hadn’t followed due process, the Speaker’s initial ruling on the ‘ayes’ retaining their advantage stands. Consequently, the budget has been duly passed until the appeal for a headcount is dealt with, not the division that the Speaker had called.”

Parliament could not approve the budget on Wednesday, November 29 after the Majority side of the house boycotted proceedings, making it the second time they are walking out on their own budget after they first did so on the 2022 budget statement which introduced the e-levy.

They disagreed with the way the Mr Bagbin was conducting the business. They accused the Speaker of delaying proceedings in order for the Minority to have their full numbers in the House.

“Sam George is not here, Zanetor is not here, Mahama Ayariga, is not here so five of their members are not here. All the speaker is doing is to delay time for their members to come,” Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu told journalists after they walked out.

The Speaker had to suspend sitting.

Ningo Prampram Lawmaker Samuel Nartey George however rubbished the claim that he was not in Parliament.

The Minority Leader Dr Cassiel Ato Forson accused the New Patriotic Party (NPP) of lacking the numbers to approve the 2024 budget statement.

Addressing the press, Dr Ato Forson said “The NPP does not have the numbers to approve their own budget, sensing defeat they decided to walk out. The NDC MPs were ready to vote against the budget.

“Our position is that we can allow the budget to go through in its current form because the ordinary Ghanaian will suffer. John Kumah is not here, Kennedy Agyapong is not here and sensing defeat they walked out, we will not stop, we will do what we have to do. The Budget has not been approved.”