Ghana’s Parliament has adjourned sine die after passing the Appropriation Act 2022 to authorise government expenditure for 2023.
However, this was not before adding two new loans to the debt burden of Ghana’s already debt-distressed economy, which is seeking support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and is currently negotiating tumultuous debt exchange programs with domestic and international creditors.
According to the House, 30 million Euros has been authorised as a loan to Finance the “Government Goes Solar Project” and another 116 million Euros to finance “the 330kv Accra-Kumasi Transmission Line Project.”
Despite the precarious state of Ghana’s debt situation, said to have reached an unsustainable level, the Minority group told the House they found it necessary to support the new loans – despite their general aversion to new loans for Ghana – because the terms of the facilities seemed favourable.
The House had been sitting since Wednesday Morning, during which a raft of new laws was passed, including legislation providing for a reduction in the E-levy rate from 1.5 percent to 1 percent and an increase in the VAT rate by 2.5 percent in line with the new tax policies of the government.
Meanwhile, intense and relentless opposition to the National Cathedral Project by the Minority in Parliament forced the Government to abandon an 80 million Ghana cedis proposed allocation to the controversial project.
The government was forced to abandon its quest for the amount in a bid to save the budget of the Ministry of Tourism which would have been held hostage had the government not yielded to the demands of the Minority.
Despite spirited performances by Majority MPs in defence of the construction of the National Cathedral, Minority lawmakers forced the government’s hands into cutting the 80 million cedi proposed allocation to the project, arguing it is terrible to use Ghana’s tax funds at a critical time when the nation’s economy remains on life support and in desperate need of resources to avoid total collapse.
Before the House rose for the Christmas and New Year holidays, the Majority had sought to push through a string of new Government businesses, including attempts to have Parliament vote on two outstanding nominees to the Supreme Court. However, Minority MPs raised a storm of objections, accusing the Government of seeking to overwork MPs to the detriment of their individual and collective health. In the end, the Majority had to shield all outstanding businesses in the face of unrelenting Minority opposition.
Later, the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu had, in a closing speech presented on his behalf, indicated 24 January 2023 as the tentative date for MPs to reconvene for Parliamentary business. However, Speaker Alban Sumana Bagbin was quick to strike down the said date, reminding the Majority Leader he had no authority to set return dates for the House.