Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin has indicated that, the staging of walkouts by members of Parliament do not invalidate ongoing parliamentary proceedings.
According to him, walkouts are legitimate avenues by which members of Parliament can express their grievances; adding that, the practice is part of parliamentary procedures.
Speaking on the floor of Parliament on Thursday, the Speaker recounted that since 1997, he has seen members of Parliament walking out of the chamber many occasions.
“Honourable members, staging a walk out is a legitimate form of protest, and it’s part of our parliamentary norms and practices. Indeed, there have been several walkouts since 1997, and each side of the House has used it as a legitimate tool to register their displeasure over one issue or the other. As the leader of the Minority, I employed it on several occasions between 2001 and 2008”, Alban Bagbin recounted.
Mr. Alban Bagbin therefore noted that it cannot be said that when MPs walk out of Parliament, the ongoing proceedings become invalid.
He added that, the staging of a walkout “does not render Parliament incapable of performing its functions. I can refer to so many instances were walkouts and boycotts have never succeeded in delaying or preventing the continuation of the business of the house. But let me cite just three. On August 22nd 2003, the Minority staged a boycott of the house in protest against the National Health Insurance Authority which was under consideration. And the Minority was against one provision. I led that walk out”.
The explanation by the Speaker follows an earlier decision, in which the Majority had indicated that their walkout on the 30th of November, during the discussions of the budget, made the decision of the House invalid. Accordingly, the Majority convened in the absence of the Speaker and approved the 2022 budget which had earlier been rejected.
The Speaker emphasized that when members of Parliament walk out of the chamber in protest of a decision, it does not in any way prevent Parliament from carrying on with the business of the day.
Touching on the decision of the 1st Deputy Speaker to count himself as part of the quorum of the House, the Speaker said the decision creates a procedural challenge for Parliament.
On the substantive matter of the 2022 budget, Alban Bagbin said, the budget has undergone many previous engagements already and therefore there’s the need for the House to make progress. According to him, a standing decision must be taken to ensure the smooth governance of the country.
In this regard, the Speaker proposed that the Finance Minister should appear before Parliament and submit the newly drafted bill concerning the electronic transaction. According to the Speaker, this will help in bring finality to the controversial e-levy, which has become the subject of controversy regarding the approval of the 2022 budget.
Meanwhile, the Minority has affirmed that, it will not back any move by government to impose the proposed 1.75% e-levy on Ghanaians. This is because, the Minority believes that the levy is ‘regressive’, and will impose hardship on Ghanaians.