Perhaps, you are not aware why Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta desperately wanted to amend aspects of the 2022 budget statement last Friday, although he had rounded off his motion for the adoption of the government fiscal statement.
The 2022 budget statement was presented to Parliament some two weeks ago. This is the first time in his official capacity as Cabinet Minister, that Ken Ofori Atta has attempted to plead with MPs, especially, those from the Minority side to hear him out, as he tried albeit unsuccessfully, to amend his final motion for the adoption of the 2022 budget.
The move was however torpedoed by the Minority, who insisted that time was due to vote on the budget. The last minute botched attempt would have enabled Ken Ofori Atta to factor into the budget, the cost for the construction of the first phase of the Keta Sea Defence Project.
It was an anomaly that was detected by the Minority group; and Ofori Atta wanted to use Keta, as a conduit to enable him alter other changes to the budget, especially, the one on the e-levy that has virtually brought the country to a siege.
This is confirmed by sources within the Parliamentary Services and further corroborated by other sources within government that Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta was all set to amend aspects of the budget, especially those areas that have raised the adrenaline of the national temperature.
This author has it on authority that there wouldn’t have been such last minute shift in position by the Finance Minister; but for the unacceptable position on the e-levy issue by his superior— The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
The President was on his official vacation when the final budget statement was released and read in Parliament. A source at the Select Committee on Finance, hinted this writer that the President could therefore not read the final budget statement, believing in the capabilities of his Finance team, especially his cousin, the Finance Minister to have done a good job.
The President however retuned from his vacation to meet a country on tenterhooks with almost every area boiling over the introduction of the e-levy in the 2022 budget. As the President gauged the heightened national mood, he quickly, as my close presidential sources told me, summoned the Finance Minister and his team of experts to an emergency meeting at the Presidency on the vexed budget matter.
The President, sources disclosed, was not prepared to listen to any sorts of explanation from his finance team. He told them he convened the meeting to inform them of his candid opinion on what the team had done. This time, not to pat their shoulders; but to order them to go alter aspects of the budget that have set the country on the edge.
So that was the basis for Ofori Atta’s intended plea to be allowed to adjust his motion statement to factor in the concerns raised by the Majority group and that of the President. Unfortunately, some members of the Minority also got wind of the President’s coercion to his Finance Minister; and if they had allowed the Minister to effect changes to the budget, that would have easily altered their stance on the rejection of the budget.
But the posture of the Majority, prior to the day of the adoption of the budget might have also contributed to the hardline stance of the Minority on the budget impasse. Some Majority MPs, were on record to have intimated to a section of the media that the Minority do not have the locus to torpedo the budget.
Even after the seemingly rejection or the disapproval of the budget last Friday, the Majority Leader was on air claiming that the action of the Minority was unconstitutional. The basis of his position will however be known when the House reconvenes today.
Many have also argued that the Majority leader is only blowing hot air. In the opinion of these people, the best under the circumstance is to build consensus on the matter. The ranking NDC member on Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson, was the first to call for a compromise on the matter.
But many others have also questioned the farce being made by politicians, especially the NPP, on the budget rejection or disapproval. In 1979, Dr. Limann’s premier budget presented by his premier Finance Minister, Dr. Amon Nikoi was rejected by Parliament.
It’s instructive to note that the biological father of Ken Ofori Atta, Jones Ofori Atta, who was the ranking member on Finance from the opposition Popular Front Party (PFP), was the one who moved for the rejection of Dr. Limann’s first budget. He was supported by John Kportufe Agama, who was the spokesperson for the smaller opposition United National Convention headed by an uncle of the current President, William Ofori Atta.
In a similar budget fiasco, under the same Limann administration, Jones Ofori Atta again ensured that Limann’s third budget in the 3rd Republic was also unapproved. He was backed by then MP for Nkawkaw, Kwaku Baah, who together with J.H. Owusu Acheampong had challenged Victor Owusu’s dictatorial leadership style; and therefore, were expelled from the PFP.
Victor Owusu was the presidential candidate of the PFP in the 1979 presidential election. Perhaps, what is required is to lower egos to allow sanity to prevail for the sake of the ordinary Ghanaian.