John Mahama
John Mahama

The Chairperson of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Professor Stephen Adei, has criticised former President John Mahama over his comments on the recent ruling by the Supreme Court involving the voting rights of Deputy Speakers of Parliament.

Speaking in an interview with Raymond Acquah on UpFront on Wednesday, the NDPC boss stated that personalities like Mr Mahama and President Nana Akufo-Addo are influential figures, whose postures on issues can impact on the rest of the populace.

According to him, based on the influence they wield, they must refrain from certain acts that can spell mayhem for the country.

On that note, the former Board Chairman of the Ghana Revenue Authority, stated that Mr Mahama’s comment on the recent ruling by the apex court, was in bad taste; adding that his comments could set the country on the path of civil war.

In his view, the comments by the 2020 NDC flagbearer cannot be casually dismissed as a critic of the Judiciary.

“Leadership is motivating others. Akufo-Addo with all of his intelligence, and he’s one of the brilliant people, he’s one out of 30 million Ghanaians. But his actions, and that goes for Mahama. He must watch what he says. Because they’re leaders whose behaviour and words have such gargantuan impact. For example, you cannot be a person of the stature of Mahama and say what he said. And I won’t like to repeat it; about the Supreme Court judgment.

“Because what you’re doing is this. You’re setting the country on [the] cause of civil war. Because wherever there has been a civil war, there must be list of confidence in the formal system. I won’t like to repeat it. I think the words which were used should never have come from the mouth of an ex-president,” he stated.

It would be recalled that in a Facebook post on March 10, the NDC 2020 flagbearer said, “If Deputy Speakers, because they are Members of Parliament, can vote while presiding as Speaker, they could as well be able to participate in any debate on the floor over which they are presiding. This is the absurdity into which the Supreme Court ruling leads us,” he said.

Mr Mahama’s comments were an addition to earlier concerns where he stated that the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling that Deputy Speakers can vote while presiding sets a dangerous precedent for the country’s Parliamentary procedure.

He described the verdict by the Court as “shocking but not surprising.”

According to him, the verdict by the apex court on the voting rights of the Deputy Speakers is “an unfortunate interpretation for convenience that sets a dangerous precedent of judicial interference in Parliamentary procedure for the future.”

The Supreme Court, presided over by Justice Jones Dotse, on Wednesday, March 9, ruled that a Deputy Speaker can be counted during the formation of a quorum for Parliamentary decision-making and participate in voting while presiding over the parliamentary business.

The landmark judgement was given after private legal practitioner, Justice Abdulai, filed a case against the Attorney- General to contest the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu’s decision to count himself during a vote to approve the 2022 budget.

But Mr Mahama intimated that the 7-0 ruling affects the independence of the legislative arm of government and may affect future deliberations in the House.

However, while contributing to discussions on the current state of the economy on UpFront, Professor Stephen Adei said the comments were not deserving of a leader of Mr Mahama’s calibre.

Meanwhile, Professor Adei has refuted claims that Ghana’s economy is on the verge of collapse. In his view, the economy is not collapsing, stating that “we are in difficult times.” According to him, the country’s economy is stronger “than the word broke”.

Ghana’s current public debt stock stands at a staggering 341.8 billion Ghana cedis with a corresponding debt to GDP ratio of more than 77% as of September ending 2021.

This means if the country should share this amount across the country’s 30.8 million population, everyone will owe approximately 11,000 Ghana cedis.

In terms of interest payments on borrowings, Ghana has spent on average 147 billion Ghana cedis, which is 47 billion Ghana cedis more than projected revenue plus grants for 2022.

In the first quarter of 2022, the government has indicated that it will borrow a total of GHS24.5 billion from the domestic market of which GHS20.7 billion will be used to service existing debt in the local market, leaving the government with just GHS3.8 billion to finance other expenses.