Budget of ‘ Journey To Nowhere ‘ – Minority
By Daniel Nonor
The usual enthusiasm that greets the reading of government expenditure presented to Parliament each year is beginning to wane. Yesterday, the usual elated atmosphere within which ministers of finance present the government’s budget was reduced to mere moods and reflections, as the Minister of Finance, Mr. Seth Terkper, diagnosed the not too good health of the economy, and the government’s intended remedies to save the economy from further decline.
Characteristic of budget presentations on the floor of Parliament, the Majority cheered on the Minister of Finance on his mention of interventions or government achievements, save the minority who turned uneasily in their seats, as to suggest that the so-called achievements being applauded by the majority was unmerited. To them, the budget was a ‘Journey to Nowhere.’
Contrary to speculations that turnout may be low on the minority side of the House due to their earlier boycotts of proceedings in Parliament, they were fully represented.
One notable practice which has over the years characterised the presentation of budget statements, and which was conspicuously absent this time round, was the minority’s usual naming of the budget before the Minister of Finance completes his delivery.
Over the years, the Minority in Parliament has been noted for showing placards, naming the budget just before the minister concludes his presentation. Budgets, over the years, have been given names such as “419”, “Ye Wuo Budget”, and other interesting names by the Minority. Also worth noting, was the unusual ‘comportment’ of the Minority in the House, letting the minister have his way throughout the presentation, as against the usual heckling, which ministers of finance are subjected to by the Minority in the House during such occasions.
The reason for the posture of the Minority is not farfetched. The macro-economic indicators of the country are not right, and the government seems not to have answers to mitigating its rippling effects on the standard of living of the majority of Ghanaians. To the Minority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, the budget statement presented by the government has no clear directions for alleviating the plight of the Ghanaian, describing it as is “A Journey to Nowhere.”
He felt rather vindicated that the issues of profligate government spending leading to a gaping budget deficit as pointed out by the minority earlier has been confirmed by the minister of finance. He, however, promised the House that subsequent debates on the budget in the House would be “exciting”. The Majority, on the other hand, was full of praise for the minister for his presentation, and applauded the interventions by the government to consolidate its developmental agenda for the years ahead.
The soft spoken Minister of Finance received a standing ovation from his own -the majority side- after his presentation, amid cheers and chants of “ Ede bee Keke” a slogan that has since become associated with the ruling party, other than the telecom company which first adopted it.
But, before the House would rise, the Majority had friendly information for their colleagues on the other side – kebab would not be on the menu list for the day. But, how does this concern the Minority? It is alleged that on the day the Minority staged a walkout at the President’s State of the Nation address, some Minority members returned to the House to take a bite of their favourite meat, speared on sticks. The Majority’s information was, however, a sarcastic way of reminding the Minority of their displeasure over their earlier walk-out on the President.
To the Majority, the Budget Statement meets the government’s agenda for a better Ghana and bettering the lives of the people. To them, “People Matter, but Ghana first” The coming days, however, promise to be “exciting’, as stated by the two sides of the house, as they take a closer look at government spending and projections.
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