Shortfalls in annual budget estimates for the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies, coupled with challenges in raising revenues to support government in the execution of projects, has compelled the Parliament of Ghana to propose setting up another Committee to be known as Committee on Ways and Means.
This Committee if welcomed and approved by the lawmakers, will add up to the existing fourteen Standing Committees.
Its main purpose is to look at ways and means of raising revenue to assist the government in the pursuit of its developmental agenda.
It will be a replica of the Committee on Ways and Means of the United States Congress which is the chief tax-writing committee in the House of Representatives.
The Committee on Ways and Means of the US Congress derives a large share of its jurisdiction from Article I, Section VII of the U.S. Constitution which declares, “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.”
The Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, gave the hint whilst presiding over Tuesday sitting when the House was considering the annual budget estimates for the Ministry of Works and Housing.
His comments was at the backdrop of concerns from Members of Parliament (MPs) over the GH₵147,529,298.00 low annual budget estimate for the Ministry of Works and Housing.
“We’ve just celebrated fundamental human rights today and shelter is one of them. Apart from air, water, food, clothing, the next is shelter. It is so key but truly the budget allocation to the Ministry is completely next to nothing. I was in that Ministry that time definitely water was added to it and the budget allocation was a bit bigger than this. But this is just 10% of the requirement. It’s too inadequate. I sympathize with the Ministry”, he noted.
He added “I think that as custodians of the national purse, we will need as a House, to partner with the Ministry to see how we could raise additional funding for some of these essential sectors of our economy. That is why we will be proposing for the consideration of the House the establishment of the Ways and Means Committee. The Ways and Means Committee is a critical committee of Parliament which assist the Executive to raise revenue either through taxation and other means to support the national coffers. I think it is important we consider that and I am sure when the Standing Orders come before the House, we should look at it critically”.
Stunned by the GH₵147,529,298.00 budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Works and Housing, Hon. Bagbin who is also the NDC MP for Nadowli/Kaleo constituency, urged the Ministry to show active interest in the passage of the Budget Act.
“The Budget Act will support the Ministry to remain transparent and to involve earlier participation of stakeholders so that before we get to this stage of laying the budget, we have agreed on the annual and mid-term basis, the key priorities of the economy”, he advised.