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2014 Budget In Danger?…MPs To Rebel   
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If information reaching The Al-Hajj is anything to go by, then, the woes of President John Dramani Mahama, who has in recent times come under severe criticism from a section of his own party for the disconnect between the government and party seems to be far from been over.

Members of Parliament (MPs) of the ruling party, according to our usual reliable source, in solidarity with their former leader, Alban Sumana Bagbin, current leader, Benjamin Kumbuor and also, in protest of what they described as ‘shabby’ treatment from the presidency are said to be planning to do the unthinkable, which is ensuring that critical bills, agreements and more importantly the president’s 2014 budget does not taste parliamentary approval should they not receive guarantees from the Presidency that their concerns shall be addressed.

The majority MPs, some of whom are serving ministers and deputy ministers at a recent close-door meeting convened at the Speaker of Parliaments office, expressed grave misgivings about President Mahama’s relations with the NDC party and them, especially, how they were denied the opportunity to make inputs into the selection of Metropolitan, Municipal and Districts Chief Executives, a development that is said to have compelled the MPs to want to set conditionality, relative to the approval of the yet-to- be-read 2014 budget.

Information gathered by The Al-Hajj indicates that even before the Finance Minister concludes work on the president’s financial policy for 2014 fiscal year, some of the MPs, particularly those without ministerial portfolio in the current government have planned to join hands with their colleague minority MPs to raise serious concerns with the budget when it is up for debate on the floor of Parliament and are determined to push for its rejection if some of their concerns including those raised by their former leader, which they associate themselves with is not properly addressed.

Another major worry raised by the MPs is the refusal by President Mahama to make the current Majority Leader of Parliament and Minister for Government Business; Hon Benjamin Kumbuor a cabinet minister, a situation they claimed demonstrates the executive’s disdain for the legislature, particularly members of the majority.

It is still unclear if the recent ‘chorus’ rejection by the members of the august House of the phase two of the supply contract for the Dedicated Security Information System being implemented by the Ministry of Communications is a foretaste of what the majority MPs have in stock relative to the approval of the 2014 budget in the event their demand does not yield anything good. The bill though, has since been passed.

According to a source close to the legislators, what has also angered them is “the starving of our various districts and constituencies of the needed funds to implement various projects; we promised and these has made our constituents to see us as not doing what was required of us as MPs. Until recently, almost all statutory funds meant for the MMDAs and MPs have not been paid, a situation that has made most of the districts, particularly the newly-created ones dormant.

“The executive continues to treat Parliament with contempt… How can you say a whole leader of Parliament is a minister in your government yet you refuse to accord him cabinet status so that he can only attend cabinet meetings at the pleasure of someone, this is unfair, it doesn’t show respect to us?” A long-standing MP told this paper.

The Al-Hajj has gathered that the majority caucus in Parliament has delegated some senior members amongst them to present their grievances to the President for redress; however, it is not yet clear whether such a meeting shall be possible enough before the budget is presented to House on November 19 this year.

“The President has been a member of this House for 12 years and he knows how things are done here and the relationship between a President and his MPs in Parliament. What we have done is to task some of our senior ones to meet him and discuss our concerns with him…we don’t expect all of them to be addressed before the budget is presented to Parliament but at least we want to see some action and commitment on the part of the President that he will address them…anything short of that means the President must forget about the budget receiving parliamentary approval,” one of the NDC MPs told this paper on condition of anonymity.

As it is usual in every democracy where minority MPs for political gains try as much as possible to shoot down a ruling government’s fiscal policies, the majority on the other hand devotedly ensure that they get parliamentary approval regardless. The debate on the 2014 budget, which is expected to be delivered by the Finance Minister on the 19th of this month, will therefore be interesting to watch.

“We were voted by people who expect us to do what it is in their interest …we wanted to make inputs into the selection of MMDCEs; at least we are on the grounds and we know who our people want but we were denied that opportunity. When you complain you have people who are sharp to respond to you and even insult you…but we shall see; those people should get ready to come to Parliament to debate the next budget. I won’t tell you what we are going to do, but we are all in this country so you will see what will happen during the debate on the incoming budget,” one of the MPs told this paper.

Incidentally, Dr. Hilla Liman the only northerner to become president before John Mahama, stands in Ghana’s political history as the only Head of State whose party’s Members of Parliament were known to have led a crusade for his budget to be rejected.

Just like Dr. Liman, the government of President Mahama has recently come under heavy attacks from members of his own party for not showing leadership in the fight against corruption and not making himself accessible to senior government and party operatives.

Meanwhile, in a related development, workers of Parliamentary Service Board are threatening to lay down their tools if their service conditions are not addressed as soon as practicable. This is also likely to affect the smooth passage of the 2014 budget.

In another development, Chairmen of some committees of Parliament, which is NDC dominated, have admitted they are unable to fully carry out their oversight responsibilities due to inadequate funding from government.
Source: A. A. Yayra/Al-Hajj

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