The governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) has condemned what it says is an attempt by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to dictate the content of the budget statement from opposition.
This, the party said, is an assault on the clear provisions of the 1992 Constitution, which vests executive authority in the President in Article 58 and empowers him to present the budget under Article 179.
According to the NPP, the 1992 Constitution does not offer the right to Parliament to write budgets or to force the hand of the Executive the way the NDC is doing.
NPP General Secretary, John Boadu, addressed the media Sunday in Koforidua in response to the six ultimatums the Minority Caucus issued the government as conditions for the approval of the 2022 Budget.
He noted the Minority is determined to move beyond the constitutional rights and duties of a Minority Caucus as enshrined in the Constitution and the Standing Orders of Parliament.
He said, “It is no secret that the Minority intended to reject the Budget statement as a show of political force. To the Minority, the near even number of members in Parliament is an opportunity to obstruct the Government’s financial statement for political embarrassment.”
“The Minority NDC could care less if this posture leads to a crisis of payments, including salaries, as long as they believe they look politically good,” he added.
He averred, however, that the combined effect of Parliament intervention in respect of taxes may be to seek a reduction because the legislature is not entitled to reject a budgetary tax measure of the Executive because it is unreasonable as the NDC have referred to the E-levy.
Unreasonableness, he said, is not a constitutional or legislative ground for refusal to approve a budget statement.
“Therefore, the NDC’s ultimatum demanding for explicit inclusion of funds for disaster relief may be overreaching the constitutional authority of the Minority in Parliament.”
“These are examples of the havoc that a misuse of the notion of a ‘hung Parliament’ can cause.”
“If indeed the NDC purports to love the Republic as it seems to be saying in its statement, then the best way forward would be to continue with the Parliamentary process and consider the Budget statement per Standing Order 140 (4) and (5), which gives Parliament enough room to bring forward objections to any provision of the budget within the limits of the Constitution,” he said.
According to him, the current posture of the NDC Minority is problematic for Constitutional development.
The NPP, he said, believes the e-levy is the most sustainable way forward for boosting public finances at a time when government reliance on petroleum levies, grants and loans to fund infrastructure has become unsustainable.
He averred that the proposed e-levy offers the opportunity to break into a future of self-mobilised and self-controlled resources, and pointed out that the NDC ultimatum does not seek cancellation of the e-levy altogether.
“It rather talks about suspension for consultation. So it is clear the NDC appreciates the wisdom of the e-levy but is posturing for public acclaim rather than biting the bullet.”
Mr. John Boadu challenged the NDC to present their tax and public funding alternatives and questioned whether the opposition would admit petroleum levies and borrowing are no longer sustainable.
According to him, though the NDC Minority appears to advise a way forward on the 2020 Budget stalemate, it is gloating about its numbers to block government business.