…As Finance Minister reads mid-year reviewed Budget
The observance of protocols on COVID-19 reached its apex in Parliament last Thursday, July 23, 2020, when Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta appeared before the House to present the 2020 Mid-year Budget Review.
The Number of Parliamentarians (MPs) was cut down considerably to give room to social distancing as they were seen sparsely distributed in the main Chamber of the House.
Also, the number of journalists reporting from the House was reduced to 25 card bearing members. The remaining Members of Parliament and journalists had to watch and monitor the programme on television.
This arrangement came about as a result of a directive given by the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Aaron Michael Oquaye the previous day. Also, the wearing of nose masks, cleaning and sanitizing of hands were strictly enforced.
No visitors were allowed into the House to listen to the presentation as had been the norm as security agents detailed to Parliament were tasked to ensure that no one violated the Speaker’s orders. As a result, the public gallery was devoid of visitors. Subsequently, the pump and pageantry that characterizes such occasions were conspicuously missing.
Prior to the appearance of and presentation by the Minister, nose mask – bearing MPs were seen seriously engaged in a conversation amongst them in the chamber.
Meanwhile, the Members from the Minority side of the House has described the budget as empty with doctored and falsified figures. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, MP for the North Tongu constituency maintained that the Budget was a mere political presentation by the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) to score political points in the upcoming general elections.
He stated that most of the programmes mentioned in the budget were not stated for this year. Hon. Ablakwa held that not even the construction of regional hospitals announced by the President will start this year. While stressing that this budget is a political one, he was quick to point out that the Minority pays attention to detailed figures and programmes proclaimed by the government, contrary to claims by government officials in this regard.
By S. O. Ankamah