Parliament Ponder Timing Budget Statement to Follow SONA

The Constitutional and Legal Committee of Parliament in collaboration with the new legal department of the House has been tasked to work out steps to amend timing of the budget presentation as provided in the 1992 Constitution.
Speaker Professor Aaron Michael Ocquaye who gave the directive noted since that part of the Constitution is not entrenched there is the need to contemplate the timing to make it conterminous with the entrenched provision of the State of the Nation Address (SONA).
He noted this is one of the best opportunities for Parliament to test its capacity for initiating legislations and constitutional amendments and urged the Committee and the legal department to consider the proposal and report back.
Professor Mike Ocquaye gave the directive during conclusion of debate on the SONA when Majority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, urged the House to consider aligning the Constitutional provisions of the budget statement and the state of the nation address.
The Majority leader argued that Article 67 which deals with the SONA is entrenched but Article 179(1) that deals with the budget presentation is not, hence can be aligned to be read after the SONA.
The SONA, he said, is the sets of circumstances that pertain in the country at a given time and the President’s message is an account of the state at a given period.
He said, “The President’s address is supposed to identify the defects in the existing system and the remedies proposed to deal with them to enhance national development.”
“After the vision contained in the SONA has been unveiled, the work programme to implement the objectives and vision of government, which is the budget, follows. Sequentially that is how the arrangement should be.”
The Majority leader noted that unfortunately, the Constitution compels the President to cause the budget to be laid before Parliament at least one month before expiry of the financial year; hence the SONA is delivered after the budget had already been presented.
Hon. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu pointed out that the President is obligated to deliver the SONA at the beginning of each session of Parliament, which commences in January, hence the disarray in the two presentations.
He urged the House to consider alignment of the Constitutional provisions so the SONA is delivered before the budget presentation to ensure the latter necessarily derives from the former for future guidance

By Osumanu Al-Hassan/

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