Speaker rejects motion challenging his ruling

First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu, on Friday dismissed a motion filed by the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, to challenge his ruling on the controversial approval of the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government for the year ending December 31. 

Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu

Mr Iddrisu, MP, Tamale South, sought to, by a motion, overturn the approval of the budget by the House constituted by the Majority caucus alone. 

The budget was earlier rejected by the House presided over by the Speaker, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin after the Majority caucus staged a walk-out in the middle of proceedings on November 26. 

The motion, which was debated at sitting on December 1, was dismissed by the First Deputy Speaker, a ruling the Minority Leader said was in contrast to the rules of the House. 

In a substantive motion under Standing Order 93(5) on December 7, the Minority Leader said the ruling “contravenes the Rules, Conventions and Practices of the House” and was “actuated by bias”.

But Mr Osei-Owusu, NPP MP, Bekwai, in a letter signed by the Clerk to Parliament, Cyril Nsiah, and addressed to the Minority Leader said he could not admit the motion. 

“Please refer to your communication dated 7th December 2021 on the motion in relation to a ruling by the Hon First Deputy Speaker, on Wednesday, 1st December, 2021.

“The Hon First Deputy Speaker, pursuant to Order 13(2) of the Standing Orders  of Parliament, has directed that I inform you that the motion is not admitted,” the letter read. 

The House has been in turmoil following the rejection of the Budget by the House moments after the Majority caucus staged the walk-out. 

On Tuesday, November 30, the House, constituted by the 138 Members of the Majority and presided over by the First Deputy Speaker, overturned the rejection of the budget arguing that the House didn’t have the required numbers – at least 138 Members – to take a decision on the document. 

In forming the quorum to overturn the rejection, Mr Osei-Owusu counted himself, a decision which has since divided opinion because the Speaker, per the Standing Orders does not have a vote. 

The House descended into chaos at sitting on December 2 when the First Deputy Speaker, after allowing debate on the matter ruled that he was not the Speaker and qualified to be counted to form the necessary quorum to take the decision.

“It must be clear that a Deputy Speaker is not the Speaker…our role is to assist the Speaker of Parliament in managing the House,” in line with Article 96(1) of the Constitution, Mr Osei-Owusu ruled. 

“Any attempt to read and interpret the Constitution to include the Deputy Speakers is a misreading and a misapplication of the constitution.

“But when Mr Speaker is not available, either of us could preside over the House, so can any other Member if necessary and that Member does not lose his right as a member of the House.” 

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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