- in bid to give MPs a say in national budget-setting, allocations
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Bagbin, wants the Budget bill – which seeks to give Members of Parliament (MPs) a say in what goes into the national budget – fast-tracked.
Mr. Bagbin, a veteran lawmaker, is of the view that the bill when passed into law will get the government to act on key national issues by involving parliament in the process of formulating the national budget, whereby priorities are given to various sectors as regards allocations.
“This is a very important subject matter and I believe that one of the ways we could support national leadership to find solution, is for us to pass the Budget Act,” he said.
He said every rainy season parts of the country experience flooding that leads to loss of lives and property, yet successive governments have failed to find a lasting solution to this problem – adding that the Budget bill is critical to prioritising and addressing some of the country’s social issues, including ending the perennial flooding recorded during rainy seasons.
“Since I entered parliament in 1993, we have had so many statements of this nature (flooding) almost every year and we are not finding solutions to the problem; and I think it starts from the priority-setting. Parliament must be involved at that stage, not wait until a month to end of the year when the budget is thrust upon you and you have no time even by the constitutional provisions to talk about increasing the allocations – the provisions that have been made to various sector.
“I think we have to pass the Budget Act so that we have early entry at the time of discussions on the budget, including the planning and priority-setting,” the Speaker emphasised.
His remarks come on the back of comments by the MP for Adaklu, Kwame Governs Agbodza, on the floor of parliament about floods in some parts of Accra resulting from last week Wednesday’s downpour.
News reports suggest that, so far, a lady and her two children are missing at Bortianor-Ngleshie Amamfrom due to the floods – which also led to other residents being injured and some properties damaged.
Similarly, in March this year two people lost their lives in the same area due to flooding.
In his statement, Mr. Agbodza – who is also the Minority Chief Whip – commiserated with the area’s MP and called on the Minister for Works and Housing to apprise the House [parliament] on steps his ministry is taking to avert further damage and loss of lives as the rains continue.
“For the past several lyyears, there has not been any major desilting of drains in Accra. As a House and as a country, we need to take this very serious and see what we can do to at least minimise the damage that is happening in these areas.
“It is not beyond the capability of parliament to help the relevant agencies to finance needed interventions to save lives. Desilting gutters or the major drains in Accra cannot be something beyond the funding of government with the approval of parliament,” he noted.
He added: “We would like to see what government is going to do when the mid-year budget comes to the House”.
The Budget bill seeks to set a budget office in parliament that enables MPs to scrutinise the country’s national budget and economic policy.
Currently, the only role the legislature plays in the budget process is to either approve or disapprove government’s budget when it is presented before the House by the Minister of Finance.
Earlier this month, when parliament reconvened from break, leadership of both sides of the house told the press corps that the Budget bill is among those listed on the meeting’s agenda.
Finance, Works and Housing Minister to brief House
The Speaker has since directed that the Minister responsible for Works and Housing and the Finance Minster be programmed by the Business Committee to brief the House on actions being taken to address the recurrent flooding menace.