Absence of Finance Minister, Deputies stalls budget debate

The absence of the Minister for Finance, his two deputies, and even the Minister of State at the finance ministry stalled the day-two debate of the 2024 budget statement.

At the commencement of public business for Wednesday, November 22, 2023, the House was to continue the debate on the budget statement, but that was arrested through an application to the Speaker.

The former Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, drew the attention of the Speaker to the absence of the Minister for Finance and his deputies at a time when the House was to debate the budget.

He argued that budget oversight was the most important function of Parliament and that “it is important that the minister for finance sit in.”

He acknowledged that Ken Ofori-Atta had tripped abroad to negotiate with bilateral creditors, but “at least, before we commence debate on the budget, make sure that there is somebody representing the Hon. Minister of Finance,” he told the Majority Leader.


The Majority Leader responded and assured the House that the deputy minister for finance would be in the House by the time the debate commences.

“I will assure him that when we come to the debate, the deputy ministers, or at least one of them, will be here. We are not there yet. Mr. Speaker, the deputy minister is on the way coming,” he said, urging the Speaker to vary the order paper.


The Speaker, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, upheld the appeal by the Tamale Central MP, Haruna Iddrisu, and directed the debate not to commence without any representation of the finance ministry.

“Again, we will not proceed to the budget debate now. We will start with statements until we see evidence of the political leadership of the ministry present in the House, then we can go to the budget debate. We need them to be available to note the submissions of members, take them seriously, and make sure that they are factored into the management of our economy, particularly the implementation of the 2024 budget. We have the whole day to handle the budget,” Bagbin said.

Just when the House was moving to another motion, the Minority Leader, Cassiel Ato Forson, called on the Speaker to, regardless of the absence of the ministry, allow the debate to commence.

His argument was that it was the responsibility of the ministry to be in the House, and the public who had attended the sitting to witness the debate could not be punished for that.

“I think it is important that we debate the budget while we wait for them to appear before us. So, it is an application I am making before you,” he said.

Bagbin was “not persuaded” by the application and insisted that the House suspend the debate until the ministry of finance was represented.

“I think this House should be taken more seriously than they are doing. And I don’t think we will do that [commence the debate] in their absence,” he stated.

He argued that it was important for at least one of the deputies to be present, as during the debate, points of order may be raised to guide the House.

The House moved to a different item until the Deputy Minister for Finance, Abena Osei Asare, who was available the previous day, appeared on the floor, and then the debate commenced.


The Member of Parliament for Effutu, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, who opened day 2 of the debate on the budget, claimed that the NDC intends to take Ghanaians to the past, but that will not happen.

He outlined the various developments under the Akufo-Addo-Bawumia government, including the increase in allocation to free SHS and other social interventions.

According to him, despite the devastating effects of COVID-19, no public sector worker has complained of non-payment of salaries.

He further mentioned the financial sector cleanup, arguing that the government committed $25 billion to support the sector.

Though he acknowledged that some Ghanaians lost their lives in that difficult moment, he argued that the decision of the government saved more lives and kept more people at work.

“Now, Mr. Speaker, to conclude, these are men and women who, without COVID, without geopolitical crisis, and with their own homegrown economic policies, failed Ghanaians. If they were in office at the time of all the crises that we faced, Mr. Speaker, where would Ghana be? Indeed, we have said bye-bye to them. It is never again to the NDC, Mahama, Seth Terkpe, and Ato Forson economy again. It is bye, bye to, and it is bye, bye forever. Mr. Speaker, I rest my case, and I thank you,” he ended.


The Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah, referred to paragraph 22 of the budget statement, where the statement said he had turned the corner. He then cited page 110 of the same document to claim that table eight on the page “betrays” the minister.

He said that growth performance in industry had declined, and after seven years in office, “the minister’s own data has betrayed him.”

Armah Buah said the manufacturing sector contracted from 9.5% in 2017 to a negative 1.1%, adding that ordinary Ghanaians and businesses are being suffocated with taxes.

He expressed concern about the amount of money spent on the importation of food. Referring to the figures for one district, one factory with regards to factories set up and the jobs created, he opined that “we must admit that the government is not in the business of creating jobs and create the enabling environment for the private sector to do that.”


The Chairman of the Roads and Transport Committee, who is the MP for Akim Swedro, Kennedy Osei Nyarko, indicated that the challenges associated with funding in the road sector did not discourage the government from investing in the sector.

He referred to paragraph 36 of the budget statement: The government has invested GH16 billion in the road sector, despite the issues the road sector is confronted with.

According to him, almost 77% of the 60,000 kilometres of roads in Ghana in 2017 were unpaved, but “as we speak, Mr. Speaker, within seven years, the government has been able to expand the size of our road network from the 78,402 kilomtres that we met to 94,203 kilometres.”


The Member of Parliament for Bongo, Edward Abambire Bawa, in his submission, chastised the government for what he said was a poor performance.

According to him, the government should show Ghanaians what it has done with the resources at its disposal instead of stating its intentions.

He dwelt on the energy sector, particularly its financial health. He stressed that the energy sector featured heavily in the International Monetary Fund deal because of the threat that debts in that sector pose to the country.

He referred to the policies of the MF for the government in the energy sector, claiming that the goal was that the IMF intended to relieve the government of its energy debt.


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