2022 Budget rejection: Speaker could face ten-year jail term if… says constitutional lawyer

2022 Budget rejection: Speaker could face ten-year jail term if… says constitutional lawyer

The Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin could face a ten year jail term if he is found to have acted contrary to the provisions of the 1992 Constitution in rejecting the 2022 Budget, a Constitutional lawyer has said.

The comment by the head of Law Centres at the Faculty of Law, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Dr Kwaku Agyeman-Budu, comes after the ensuing debate over the rejection of the 2022 Budget in Parliament by a one -sided House on Friday ( 26 November).

Sharing his opinion on the development on the News Paper Review segment of the Asaase Breakfast Show on Monday (29 November) Dr  Agyeman-Budu said the Speaker could be jailed if the Supreme Court establishes that he acted in contravention of the Constitution.

“I think that, there is that  issue of constitutionality that could be determined by the Supreme Court , and  if you read article 2 of the constitution for instance , a citizen of Ghana can bring an action in the Supreme Court where you believe that any person has acted or omitted to act in a way that is inconsistent with or in contravention of the Constitution or any provision thereof,” he said.

“And if you read closely Article 2, you will find out that the Supreme Court has the power to declare any such act of any person unconstitutional or inconsistent with the provision of the Constitution and they have the power to make consequential orders to give effect to that particular declaration or decision that they will make.”

He added, “To the extent that all those persons to whom such orders of the Supreme Court  are  directed are bound by the Constitution to obey the orders of the Supreme Court or risk being convicted for what is referred to as  high crime under the Constitution; which carries a jail term of ten years and not being able to hold public office for ten years.”

The Minority Caucus in Parliament has urged the Majority side to accept defeat and acknowledge that the 2022 Budget has been rejected by the House.

In a statement issued on Sunday (28 November), the Minority said it “is shocked and disappointed at the recent attack of the Rt. Hon Speaker by the Majority Leader in his attempt to explain away their inability to show leadership in the House during the consideration of the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy.

“The Minority wishes to strongly advise the Majority Leader and Government to accept defeat, acknowledge the rejection of the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy by Parliament and focus on discussions on how to save the country from an imminent economic crisis.”

The Minority said until government includes, reviews and withdraws certain policies and initiatives in the 2022 Budget, it will not approve the 2022 Budget.

The Minority wants the government to suspend the proposed 1.75% E-Levy and a proper reconstruction of paragraph 829 of the Aker Energy deal relating to GNPC’s acquisition of stake from Aker Energy and AGM Petroleum.

“Disregard rejection of budget”

However, the Majority has also called on Ghanaians to disregard the move by the Minority side of Parliament on 26 November 2021 to reject the government’s 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy.

In a statement issued after the proceedings in Parliament on 26 November, the Majority Caucus said it “hereby notifies the Ghanaian public to kindly disregard the decision by Speaker Alban Bagbin, that 137 Members of Parliament have the power to take a decision for Parliament and have consequently rejected the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana”.

The statement continues: “Article 104 of the 1992 Constitution and Order 109 of the Standing Orders of Parliament are very clear. The two provisions, read together, require that at least 138 MPs needed to have been present in the Chamber at the time of the purported vote.

“Therefore, the claim that the Budget has been rejected by 137 Members of the House is null, void and of no effect, because same is unconstitutional,” the statement from the Majority says.

But the Minority has refuted the claims of unconstitutionality, describing their colleagues in the Majority as “irresponsible” urging them to accept the rejection of the 2022 Budget in good fate.

“The Minority wishes to strongly advise the Majority Leader and Government to accept defeat, acknowledge the rejection of the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy by Parliament and focus on discussions on how to save the country from an imminent economic crisis.”

“We hope the NPP government will do what is right and proper when considering a revised budget. The NPP Government should critically take on board the view of the Minority and sentiments of the Ghanaian populace and bring a Budget that is acceptable and address the issues of the general public”, the Minority said.

Source:Asaase Radio

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