The apparent rejection of the 2022 budget, despite being challenged by the Majority, has become the first time a budget has not been approved in the history of the Fourth Republic. It is, however, not the first in the history of Ghana. In the preceding Republic, headed by Dr. Hilla Limann, a budget statement was also rejected by Parliament.

Apparently, the motion to have that budget of the 1981/82 fiscal year rejected was moved by Jones Amoako Atta Ofori-Atta, who was then the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee. He had served as a Deputy Minister of Finance in the Second Republic, which was toppled by the 1972 coup d’etat led by Lt. Col Ignatius Kutu Acheampong.

He was a Deputy to the late Joseph Henry Mensah. Returning to the Third Parliament on the ticket of the Popular Front Party (PFP) for Begoro Constituency, Mr. Ofori-Atta filed the motion to have the budget, presented by then Finance Minister Dr. George Benneh rejected.

The motion was seconded by Dr. G. K. Adama, the Parliamentary Spokesperson on Finance for the ruling People’s National Party (PNP).

Previous Finance Minister Dr. Amon Nikoi, who had distinguished himself as an astute diplomat, had resigned his post as Finance Minister. He was later replaced by Dr. Benneh, who was later to become Professor and a Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana.

There were concerns from the Minority on the 1981/82 budget presented on Tuesday, June 30, 1981. The government was then in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and so introduced a number of taxes including hospital tax and air travel ticket tax.

But just when Mr. Ofori-Atta was making his submission on the motion on the floor of Parliament, a Minority member, Kwabena Adae-Mensah of Bantama, whispered into his ears – apparently about their higher number over the Majority members because the latter was pursuing other interests outside the chamber.

The Begoro MP immediately moved a counter-motion on the budget and voting was approved by the Speaker. Some of the Majority PNP members who wanted to get into the chamber before the votes were barred by the marshals as per the Standing Orders of Parliament. It was 54 to 51 and the budget was rejected.

Mr. Jones Ofori-Atta later contested the 1996 Presidential Primaries of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) but lost to John Agyekum Kufuor. But he served for a while in the latter’s government as Chairman of the Volta River Authority (VRA). He became an Economics Lecturer at the University of Manchester, UK, where he had obtained his Ph.D.

Dr. Ofori-Atta died in the UK on Monday, November 30, 2020. Finance Minister Ofori-Atta loses father

Story By: Emmanuel Kwame Amoh –

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