The Government is unlikely to present its 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy to Parliament by November 15th, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business in Parliament, has disclosed.
This, the Majority Leader, attributed to the ongoing negotiations between the Government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a loan agreement, part of which would be incorporated into the 2023 Budget.
He noted that the budget was the prime document for the House because it was the greatest programme, which was presented to the House by any Government.
He said the House needed to spend time to look at it; adding that “I am not too sure as I sit here, I still have to spend some time with the Minister of Finance to determine when he will be able to submit the document to us.”
He said the Public Financial Management (PFM) Act provides that the budget should be presented to the House latest by the 15th of this month and that the discussions that were going on now involving the IMF was going to take a bit of a while.
“My understanding is that it will go into the first few days of next week, around the 10th (of November) or so. If that is the case, you then must stand out the conclusions and factor them into the budget,” the Majority Leader said.
“After they've succeeded in doing that because it is the budget for Government, you have to go before the cabinet for some discussions and maybe some additions and subtractions before it comes ultimately to Parliament.”
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said he believes it was going to be quite difficult to submit to the 15th of November deadline; saying “I do not know, I am just conjecturing, but if you want to do a tidy work, it will require to have some space to be able to do the tidy work.
“Because as we all do know, these are not normal times, and if you want to do a tidy job to reposition the country, nothing should be done which eventually becomes ineffective. We want to have the best to be able to uplift us from where we are as a country.”
He said that being the case if they want to do a thorough job, he thinks there would be too much pressure if the budget had to be done on the 15th of November.
“If it comes after the 15th of November, let's face it, it will not be in breach of the Constitution,” Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said.
He said the Constitution provides that the last date of presentation was going to be the 30th of November, so it would not be in breach.
He said Parliament itself brought the date for the presentation of the budget forward to the 15th of November because Members of the House wanted more time to interrogate the principles underpinning the budget.
He said Ghana belongs to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which as a body of Parliaments had taken a position that Parliaments should work towards having a presentation budget for consideration and passage at least eight weeks before the beginning of the next succeeding fiscal year.
He said that was why the House brought the presentation of the budget forward to the 15th of November so that it would give them about six weeks instead of the four weeks that the Constitution states.
Responding to a question on the 88 New Patriotic Party (NPP) Majority Caucus press conference calling for the removal of Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the finance minister and Mr Charles Adu Boahen, the Minister of State at the Finance Ministry; the Majority Leader said the decision was a collective decision by the Majority Caucus.
Touching on an allegation that a renowned businessperson tried to bribe the 88 MPs to prevent them from going ahead with a decision to call for the removal of the finance minister, the Majority Leader said the issue would be investigated to ascertain its veracity.