Ghana parliament approves budget days after rejecting it

Ghana’s parliament approved the country’s 2022 budget on Tuesday, days after it was rejected over feuding between rival lawmakers and concerns about a new levy on electronic bank transactions.

The parliament is split between the two main parties following an election a year ago, increasing the risk of gridlock as the country struggles to rebound from the impact of the global pandemic and a heavy debt burden.

During the previous vote on Friday, MPs from the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) walked out of the chamber after accusing the speaker of bias.

They were outraged because the speaker — a member of the opposition — said the finance minister should not be present during the vote.

The opposition MPs then voted down the proposal, the first time the national budget has been rejected since 1981 in the West African country.

But the opposition boycotted the resumed sitting on Tuesday, and acting speaker Joseph Osei Owusu of the NPP said the budget had now been approved by the majority.

“It’s a pity the minority side is not here, so I could hear their views on the motion,” he told reporters after the vote.

Majority leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the initial rejection of the budget “was null and void”, describing it as a “flagrant violation of our own rules”.

Minority leader Haruna Iddrisu dissociated his group from the decision.

“Ghanaians should understand that what they’ve done is null and void… It’s a dark day for Ghana’s constitutional parliamentary democratic practice,” he told reporters.

Friday’s setback came after the government introduced a proposed new levy on electronic bank transactions, including popular mobile phone money apps.

In January, soldiers were forced to enter Ghana’s parliament to break up fights between rival lawmakers at odds over the election results.

Ghana is touted as a stable democracy in volatile West Africa, although the 2021 elections were marked by opposition accusations of fraud and five people died in violence