Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has rejected recommendations of the government’s proposed estimates of expenditure for Parliament and the Parliamentary Service.
According to him, the provisions of the constitution require the President to lay the estimates of Parliament and the Judiciary before Parliament “without revision” to the estimates, but with “recommendations that the President may make on them.”
Presenting formal communications to the House yesterday, the Speaker referred to a letter from the presidency dated March 11, 2021 in which it sought to communicate to Parliament the recommendations of the President on the 2021 proposed estimates of the expenditure for Parliament and the Parliamentary Service, and indicated that he had informed the presidency that he could not accept the communication.
“Respectfully, as Speaker of Parliament, I am unable to accept the letters and communicate the same to the Honourable House,” he read his response to the letter from the presidency.
Mr. Bagbin explained that the wording and import of the letters from the presidency did not communicate a recommendation as stipulated by Article 127 and 179 of the 1992 Constitution and section 15(8) of the Parliamentary Service Act, 1993 (Act 460).
He asserted that the letters communicated “an imperative to Parliament to keep within the expenditure estimates which have been set by the government.
“Indeed, the provisions of the constitution require the President to lay the estimates of Parliament and the Judiciary before Parliament ‘without revision’ to the estimates, but with recommendations that the President may make on them.”
The Speaker disclosed that he noted, however, that in the budget statement and the expenditure estimates made on Friday, March 12, 2021, the “recommendations” of the President were laid instead of the original estimate that was submitted by Parliament and the Judiciary.
Recommendation for Parliament
He revealed further that the presidency reduced Parliament’s expenditure estimates by GH¢119,846,911, and continued that the explanation given by the Executive was that “in view of the review fiscal space in the national budget as a result of the statutory and debt service obligations, we cannot accommodate the request by Parliament.”
According to him, the letter which was authored by the Executive Secretary to the President, Nana Bediatuo Asante, suggested for Parliament and Parliamentary Service to operate within the reduced budget estimates, while the Executive worked to “explore opportunities to increase the allocation in subsequent years when revenues improve and debt has stabilised.”
“Accordingly, Parliament is respectfully requested to keep the estimates of the Parliament and the Parliamentary Services with the expenditure estimates provided above.
“This will enable the government to contain expenditures in the overall fiscal space for 2021. It should however be noted that the ceiling provided for Parliament and the Parliamentary Service satisfies section 15 (a) of Parliamentary Service Act,” he read the letter from the presidency.
By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House