Ghana parliament

  • 2022 budget rejected; what next for the government?

    Parliament for the first time in the fourth republic has voted to disapprove a national budget, the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy.

    This follows a walkout staged by the majority caucus made up of members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) on Friday, November 26, 2021, when the debate on the budget was to be concluded.

    The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin ruled that proceedings continue despite the walkout, allowing the opposition MPs the louder voice to vote ‘No’ on the question of whether the budget should be approved.

    The majority caucus has renounced the decision and declared it void and non-binding.

    It believes that only 137 minority MPs voted on the budget, and that number does not meet the minimum number of 138 MPs needed to take a decision on the approval of a budget.

    “For the record, the acts of the Minority and the decision of the Speaker to endorse it, constitute an unconstitutionality and an illegality and should be disregarded, as same is void and of no effect whatsoever,” they said in a statement but this is being debated.

    What does it mean for the budget to be rejected?

    According to Article 179 of the 1992 Constitution and Section 22 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016, (Act 921), parliament is the only arm of government with the power to approve a national budget and its appropriation.

    After receiving the budget from the Executive, it is expected to debate it and either approve or disapprove it.

    Approving it means that resource allocations to the various ministries, departments and agencies and all other expenditures, plans and activities of the government for the next financial year are cleared to go on.

    If the budget is rejected by parliament, there will be no appropriation and in effect, no government spending can be done for the financial year in question.

    Since parliament is the only arm of government with that power, the only remedy would be that the government (Executive), through the Minister of Finance, widely consult all the relevant parties and resubmit a revised policy statement taking into consideration the concerns of those unhappy with it.

    The Way forward

    The majority in parliament is expecting a reversal of the ruling and have threatened to go to court if parliament insists.

    A senior assistant clerk of the Parliament of Ghana, Dr Ernest Darfour says going to court can be considered but that could be the last resort since parliament has two major internal options for addressing such cases.

    “Two procedural remedies immediately come to mind. The first is to challenge the pronouncement of the Rt Hon. Speaker on the voice vote after the question had been put, which must be immediate. The second is to file a motion of rescission, praying the House to rescind its earlier decision. Persons can also seek the Court’s intervention as to the constitutionality of the process or the procedure adopted at arriving at a decision,” he said.

    The most appropriate time to trigger the first option is immediately after the Speaker’s declaration of which voice won.

    With that, any legislator can challenge it on two key bases, including the fact that the House did not form a quorum at the time of the vote.

    The second option “is to file a motion of rescission for the House to reconsider its decision to reject the Government’s Budget Statement and Economic Policy for the 2022 financial year. The motion of rescission can be introduced at any time with leave from the Speaker and the House upon a notice. After the motion has been admitted, a member would move the motion stating the defects in the procedure adopted in the earlier motion and why the House should reconsider and rescind its decision. The motion must be seconded. Debate on the new motion will ensue, after which the House will vote to either reject or approve the motion of rescission,” Dr Darfour explained.

    Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Service has announced that the Speaker of Parliament will leave the country on Saturday, November 27, 2021, for the United Arab Emirates for medical review. He returns to the country on Tuesday, December 14, 2021.  

  • The law of ‘double honourable mention’: Becoming a Minister of State in Ghana

    Certainly, any one inclined to follow the Ghanaian political climate knows that shortly after the swearing in of the President comes his ministerial appointments to assist him with the executive/sector and regional governance. To this end, the media is currently saturated with the coverage of and reports on the ministerial vetting which started on February 10, 2021 and is expected to end on March 9, 2021. 

    Unlike the President and Members of Parliament who are elected directly by citizens of Ghana, the Minister of State is not. The Minister’s appointment into office is principally facilitated by these very two arms of government – the President and Members of Parliament.  On the basis of the provisions in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, a simple summary for the appointment of Ministers of State is this; nominated by the President, approved by Parliament.

    Appointment of a Minister of State  (Executive/Sector Minister)

    According to Article 78, Chapter 8 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, anyone holding such an office is appointed by the President with prior approval of parliament from among Members of the Parliament.  

    Also, if anyone has ever wondered why most Members of Parliament in the legislative wing of government function simultaneously in the executive wing as Executive or Sector Ministers of States, it is because the Constitution is the basis for this. Article 78 stipulates that the majority of Ministers of State must be appointed from among the Parliament. 

    It states;

    (1) Ministers of State shall be appointed by the President with the prior approval of Parliament from among members of Parliament or persons qualified to be elected as members of Parliament, except that the majority of Ministers of State shall be appointed from among members of Parliament.

    (2) The President shall appoint such a number of Ministers of State as may be necessary for the efficient running of the State.

    (3) A Minister of State shall not hold any other office of profit or emolument whether private or public and whether directly or indirectly unless otherwise permitted by the Speaker acting on the recommendations of a committee of Parliament on the ground—

    (a) that holding that office will not prejudice the work of a Minister; and

    (b) that no conflict of interest arises or would arise as a result of the Minister holding that office.

    By the same token, Article 79 of the 1992 Constitution makes provision for the appointment of deputy ministers with a similar procedure and criteria. However in this case, a deputy’s appointment is in consultation with the Minister of State on the subject. 

    It states;

    (1) The President may, in consultation with a Minister of State, and with the prior approval of Parliament, appoint one or more Deputy Ministers to assist the Minister in the performance of his functions.

    (2) A person shall not be appointed a Deputy Minister unless he is a Member of Parliament or is qualified to be elected as a member of Parliament

    (3) Clause(3) of article 78 applies to a Deputy Minister as it applies to a Minister of State.

    Appointment of a Minister of State (Regional Minister)

    Article 256 of Chapter 20 in the 1992 Constitution makes provision for the appointment of a regional minister and the deputy or deputies by a similar process. It however provides no constitutional requirement for the regional minister to be a Member of Parliament.

    It states; 

    (1) The President shall, with the prior approval of Parliament, appoint for each region, a Minister of State who shall

    (a) represent the President in the region; and

    (b) be responsible for the co-ordination and direction of the administrative machinery in the region.

    (2) The President may, in consultation with the Minister of State for a region and with the prior approval of Parliament, appoint for the region a Deputy Minister or Deputy Ministers to perform such functions as the President may determine.

    Approval or rejection of a Minister of State

    According to the Constitution, Parliament is mandated to grant ‘prior approval’ to the president’s nominated ministers. 

    Order 172 of the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana makes provision for a committee comprising some Members of Parliament to be responsible for recommending to the parliament the approval or rejection of persons which include the Minister of State and Deputy Ministers, nominated by the President.

    Persons who are nominated by the President for ministerial appointments consequently undergo a publicized proceeding (vetting process) by an Appointments Committee of Parliament. Thereafter, the Committee reports to the House three days after all the proceedings have ended, in order for the House to vote. It is noteworthy that the basis for the approval or rejection of nominated ministers is hinged on a 50% determiner voting either through secret ballot or consensus by Members of Parliament.

    Order 172 of the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana states; 

    (1) There shall be a Committee to be known as the Appointments Committee composed of the First Deputy Speaker as Chairman and not more than twenty-five other Members.

    (2) It shall be the duty of the Committee to recommend to Parliament for approval or otherwise persons nominated by the President for appointment as Ministers of State, Deputy Ministers, Members of the Council of State, the Chief Justice and other Justices of the Supreme Court, and such other persons specified under the Constitution or under any other enactment.

    (3) The names of persons nominated for appointment in the Committee shall be published, and the proceedings of the Committee shall be held in public.

    (4) The Committee shall report to Parliament within three days after it has concluded its proceedings when Parliament is sitting. Parliamentary approval of persons recommended for appointment shall be by secret ballot or by consensus.

    (5) Each Member shall be provided with a sheet of paper on which appears the names of all candidates for approval or rejection. Against the name of each candidate shall be two columns, one for AYES indicating approval and the other for NOES indicating rejection.

    (6) A cross against one name in the AYES column and another cross against the same name in the NOES column shall render the vote null and void.

    (7) Every ballot paper shall bear the stamp and the initial of the Speaker.

    (8) A candidate who fails to secure fifty per cent of the votes cast is rejected.

    Swearing in of a Minister of State 

    Article 80, Chapter 8, of the 1992 Constitution stipulates that upon approval of a minister, an oath shall be taken by all such persons.

    It states;

    A Minister of State or Deputy Minister shall not enter upon the duties of his office unless he has taken and subscribed to the oath of allegiance, the oath of Minister of State and the Cabinet oath, as the case may be, set out in the Second Schedule to this Constitution.

    Tenure of office of ministers

    Furthermore Article 81, Chapter 8 of the 1992 Constitution shows the conditions for the vacancy of the minister’s office.

    It states;

    The office of a Minister of State or a Deputy Minister shall become vacant if

    (a) his appointment is revoked by the President; or

    (b) he is elected as Speaker or Deputy Speaker, or

    (c) he resigns from office; or

    (d) he dies.

    Vote of Censure 

    Additionally clause 5 of Article 82, in Chapter 8 of the 1992 Constitution lists the condition for which a President can revoke a Minister’s appointment as stated in Article 80 clause a. It shows that this can occur when a minister is censured by parliament, which is provided for in this article. 

    Article 82 states; 

    (1) Parliament may, by a solution supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the members of Parliament, pass a vote of censure on a Minister of State.

    (2) A motion for the resolution referred to in clause (1) of this article shall not be moved in Parliament unless—

    (a) seven days’ notice has been given of the motion; and

    (b) the notice for the motion has been signed by not less than one-third of all the members of Parliament;

    (3) The motion shall be debated in Parliament within fourteen days after the receipt by the Speaker of the notice for the motion.

    (4) A Minister of State in respect of whom a vote of censure is debated under clause (3) of this article is entitled, during the debate, to be heard in his defence.

    (5) Where a vote of censure is passed against a Minister under this article the President may, unless the Minister resigns his office, revoke his appointment as a Minister.

    (6) For the avoidance of doubt this article applies to a Deputy Minister as it applies to a Minister of State.

    Conclusion:

    To be appointed as a Minister of State in Ghana, having been nominated by the President as distinguished to serve and be referred to as ‘Honourable’ in the capacity of both the legislative arm and executive arm of government, it is for certain that this minister has been vetted and approved by the Parliament of Ghana. 

  • How are Members of Parliament elected In Ghana?

    Ghana’s Members of Parliament (MPs) are elected every four years – on December 7, the same day as the Presidential elections – to represent citizens living in a designated area called a constituency. The division of regions of the country into constituencies is overseen by the Electoral Commission and according to the laws of the land, cannot be done within less than seven years. 

    Since the inception of the fourth republic in 1993, the number of constituencies in the country have been reviewed twice. 

    Year19921996200020042008201220162020
    Number of Constituencies200199200230230275275275

    Source: Electoral Commission; Africa Elections Database (In the 1996 election, 200 seats were contested for, however; elections for one seat in the Ashanti region was postponed and a by-election was held in 1997 to determine the winner of the seat).

    MPs will be elected from 275 constituencies in this year’s general elections as indicated in the 2019 list of districts and constituencies.

    To qualify to partake in these elections,  an individual must go through the following processes:

    Step 1: Parliamentary Primary Elections

    For an individual to qualify to run for a parliamentary seat, he or she must, among others (pg 159 to 161),

    • be a citizen of Ghana, has attained the age of twenty-one years, and is a registered voter;
    • be a resident in the constituency for which he stands as a candidate for election to Parliament, or has resided there, for a total period of not less than five years out of the ten years immediately preceding the election for which he stands, or he hails from that constituency;
    • have paid all his taxes or made arrangements satisfactory to the appropriate authority, for the payment of his taxes;
    • Not owe allegiance to another country other than Ghana;
    • Not have been declared bankrupt;
    • Must be of sound mind or not have been  detained as a criminal lunatic under any law in force in Ghana; 

    After meeting the above requirements, the individual can nominate him/herself or be nominated by others by picking nomination forms made available by the Electoral Commission. 

    Nomination forms are then completed and submitted to the returning officer.

    For the nomination forms to be considered valid, the nomination form must satisfy the following requirements;

    “(a) witnessed by the signature, or mark of two electors as proposer and seconder, and supported by eighteen other electors, as assenting to the nomination; and

     (b) endorsed with the candidate’s consent, to nomination”.

    A candidate cannot represent more than one constituency nor can a person nominate more than one candidate for election.

    Primaries, where parliamentary candidate aspirants are elected, are then conducted by all political parties who have multiple individuals interested in representing the party in the major elections. This process is done to ensure internal party democracy, openness, and transparency(Daddieh & Bob-Milliar, 2012). 

    At the time of their nomination,  parliamentary candidates are expected to make statutory declarations deposits as determined by the Electoral Commission (EC). 

    In the case of a nominee going unopposed by the time of expiry of the time allowed for delivering nomination, and a day before the election, the candidate will be declared elected.

    Step 2: Election Day

    MPs are elected on the same day presidents are elected. They have the same term or length of stay as an elected president has, four years, after which they have the option to repeat the process again in order to be re-elected or otherwise.

    After votes are cast on election day in the various constituencies, results are tabulated and declared by the presiding officers at each polling station and then communicated to the returning officer in every district as appointed by the Electoral Commission. See page 149 of C.I. 15.

    A candidate is declared elected when he/she has the most valid votes cast in their name.

    Should there be an equality vote (a tie) between candidates, a second election will be held within 30 days of receipt of an endorsed writ by the EC as indicated on page 151 clause 40(2) of the C. I. 15. The winner will be declared based on the number of valid votes cast for each individual.

    Unlike the presidential elections where the C.I.15 (page 152) clearly states that a candidate who receives more than 50% of the votes is declared winner, the parliamentary elections are different. The candidate to whom the most votes have been given wins the parliamentary elections.

    For more information, see chapter 55 of The Public Elections Regulation, 1996 (C.I.15) which provides a detailed description of requirements, directives and regulations for general elections in Ghana. 

  • Key Statistics from Elections In Ghana

    Dominant Political parties since the Fourth Republic

    On December 7th, 2016, Members of seventh Parliament were elected to office. The dissolution of the sixth Parliament took place on the eve of January 6th, 2017  followed by the ushering in of the seventh Parliament of January 7th, 2017.

    The predominant parties of representation in Ghana’s parliament have been the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC). Power has rotated between these two parties since the fourth republic commenced in 1992/3.

    Year1992199620002000 (RO)200420082008 (RO)20122016
    Political PartyNPP30.439.648.256.952.549.149.847.753.9
    NDC58.357.444.543.144.647.950.250.744.4
    Others11.337.32.93.01.61.7

    Source: Boakye (2018)

    Others, as indicated above, represent the other political parties that contested in the elections. See more here.

    In terms of political party representation in the present parliament, of the 275 MPs, 169 were members of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), 106 belonged to the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).

    Gender representation in the Ghanaian Parliament since 1992

    Gender representation in the present parliamentary seating is heavily skewed towards males with 240 males being elected to parliament and only 35 females. In comparison to previous years, female representation in parliament has steadily improved.

    Source: fesghana.org
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