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Dialogue to Resolve Budget Impasse, Peace Council Officials in Ghana Urge Lawmakers

Logo of the National Peace Council (NPC) in Ghana. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Officials of the National Peace Council (NPC) in Ghana are calling on Members of Parliament (MPs) in the West African nation to resolve the impasse surrounding the approval of the 2022 budget.

In a Sunday, December 5 statement, NPC officials who include representatives from the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) appeal to the minority and majority lawmakers in the Ghanaian parliament “to continue the path of dialogue in resolving the current impasse and those that may occur in the future.” 

Chaos erupted in parliament in Ghana on December 1 after MPs from the minority side sought to revoke the approval of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government for the year beginning January 2022 and ending 31 December 2022. 

MPs of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the majority members, had approved the budget at a November 30 sitting that had been boycotted by the minority lawmakers

In their December 5 statement, officials of the Peace Council in Ghana call on media practitioners and all Ghanaians to be cautious when commenting on the issue of the budget.

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“The media and all those who make statements on the matter, to exercise maximum restraint in their pronouncements to protect the peace, stability, and the integrity of our beloved country,” NPC officials say in the statement signed by the Council’s Chairman, Rev. Dr. Ernest Adu-Gyamfi.

Some MPs are against the proposed budget over a new tax on electronic money transfers.

Lawmakers have been going back and forth with the budget proposal as both majority and minority caucuses claim victory in rejecting or approving the proposal. 

On November 26, the budget was rejected after 137 minority members voted against the document. This was after majority MPs walked out of the house in the middle of proceedings. The decision was, however, overturned the on November 30 when the house, constituted only by the majority MPs, voted for the budget.

At a session that aimed at undoing the November 30 voting, minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, said the November 30 sitting was not properly constituted to overturn the earlier vote to reject the budget as Mr. Joseph Osei-Owusu, acting speaker, cast a vote for the proposal.

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Violence broke out after a majority MP sought to defend Mr. Osei-Owusu’s vote. 

In the December 5 statement, NPC officials who include representatives of Catholic Bishops in Ghana say they have been following “with concern” the happenings regarding the approval of the 2022 budget. 

They add that because of “the potential impact of the happenings in Parliament on the peace and stability of the country,” they, on December 2, held separate meetings with the majority and minority lawmakers to address the current disagreement.

“Both the Majority and the Minority Leaders, Honorable Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu and Honorable Haruna Iddrisu in their responses, informed the Council, that both sides had made concessions and a committee of 20 members drawn from both sides had been set up to dialogue towards finding a solution to the impasse as soon as practicable,” NPC officials report. 

Established by the eight hundred and eighteenth (818) Act of the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana, NPC brings together representatives of different religious groupings in the West African nation.  

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Bishop Emmanuel Kofi Fianu of Ghana’s Ho Diocese represents Catholic Bishops at the Council whose main function is to prevent, manage and resolve conflict and to build sustainable peace in the country.  

Bishop Fianu was appointed as a member of the NPC Governing Board in November 2020.