By Elsie Appiah-Osei
Accra, Nov 19, GNA – The Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban Bagbin, has implored Members of Parliament (MPs) to be intentional in their actions to improve the welfare of their constituents.
That, he said, could be achieved by MPs embodying honour through their actions.
“We cannot overlook the fact that the media and public auditors of ethics, performance and standards monitor us constantly we cannot remain oblivious to their watchful eyes; it is about time we wake up to this reality.
“As leaders, it is our duty. We can earn a badge of honour beyond the mere title of Honourable. Let us strive to be known for honourable deeds and character, not just our appended labels,” he said.
Mr Bagbin made the appeal when he addressed MPs at the opening of the 2023 two-day post-budget Workshop held at Parliament House, Accra.
The annual post-budget Workshop has the primary goal of equipping MPs and Senior Officers of the Parliamentary Service with the skills required for scrutinising the Budget and Economic Policy of the Executive arm of government for the 2024 fiscal year.
It also has the objective of providing MPs with insight into the budget, interrogating to provide an effective oversight role that articulates the government’s policies and programmes.
The key expected outcomes would be quality deliberations of the statement on the floor of the House in the ensuing day’s relevant legislation and the ultimate Appropriation Act for the 2024 financial year.
He, therefore reminded the MPs of their duties to their representatives who had invested their trust in them and were looking forward to them to prove their worthiness of the title duty bearers.
He said according to the Afrobarometer Survey Report (round 91 conducted in July 2022, there was an indication of trust deficit in democratic institutions in the country.
“Per the trust ratings, the courts have ten per cent; the President 14 per cent; the Electoral Commission ten per cent and the Parliament eight per cent.
“Honourable members we must change our minds, attitudes and the ways we conduct ourselves and our business. If you are not worried about the ratings. I’m really distressed,” Mr Bagbin said.
The five-themed plenary session had discussions centred around a Contextual Overview of the 2024 Budget-Macro Economic, Fiscal Environment and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) presented by Dr Alhassan Iddrisu of the Ministry of Finance, while the Public Sector Debt Management – A Comparative Analysis was exemplified by Mr Samuel Arkhurst also of the Ministry of Finance.
Professor Osei Akoto of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) took the MPs through the Policy Objectives and Target of 2022 Compared to 2024 Objectives and Targets Comparative Analysis.
“What to Consider in Analysis of the 2024 Sector Budgets – How to Analyse and Critique a National Budget was a presentation by Dr Alex Amankwa Poku of the Ministry of Finance with an exposition on How to use the Appendices in the Budget Statement for Analysis and PBB Estimates by Professor Daniel Twerefour.”
Other topics discussed at the two-day workshop focused on the Administration, Economic, Infrastructure and Social sectors.
Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister for Finance said the 2024 budget had been prepared to ensure the accelerated implementation of the Programme for Economic Growth (PC-PEG) to safeguard the recent macroeconomic gains, expand investments to implement the new growth strategy and chart a new course.
It is also to consolidate and complete ongoing projects to improve productivity and welfare as well as mobilise climate finance to enable the government build resilience and promote climate-sensitive growth.
He said: “Mr Speaker, on the provision of growth, including the clearance of road arrears in this budget, this government wants to demonstrate our resolve to build a robust infrastructure network. On statutory funds, we have budgeted for arrears clearance.”
Mr Ofori-Atta urged participants to engage in the workshop with an open mind, and critical eyes.
He called for a partnership that would get the economy thriving.
“Mr Speaker, I know with determination we can achieve these lofty goals to maintain the primary balance that is possible.
“Mr Speaker, this is a time to gather, mend and for peace.,” he said.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Leader, urged MPs to ensure the budget optimally matched the country’s resources to support vulnerable groups in society.
He also called on the MPs to strengthen their roles which would bring their perspectives to bear.
Dr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, the Minority Leader, said it was possible for the government to hurriedly start projects without dedicated funding sources to satisfy unplanned campaign promises in 2024.
“Mr Speaker, overspending is the order of the day in an election year, and to satisfy unplanned campaign promises, projects are hurriedly commenced without dedicated funding sources, and organised labour is assured of improved conditions of service without regard to its impact on the wage bill,” he said.
The 2024 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government was presented to Parliament by Mr Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance on Wednesday, November 15, 2023, on the theme: “Pursuing Growth and Development within a Stable Macroeconomic Environment.”
It had also been described by the Government as the “Nkunim” Budget or the 2024 Victory Budget.