The finance imnister, during his presentation, said all pensioners who failed to tender their old bonds for new ones under the exercise have been exempted from the programme.
Also present in the house to witness proceedings were members of the Pensioner Bondholders Forum who had been picketing at the finance ministry for the past eight working days, protesting against the inclusion of their investments in the programme.
As is usual of him, the finance minister, Ken Ofori Atta, began his presentation with a quotation from scripture.
“Mr speaker I come in peace and as expected, if I look at Psalm 105, it says that let’s give thanks and note that we should rejoice with the lord and make his great deeds known to people,” he said, attracting varied reactions from both sides of the house.
He then proceeded to make his presentation to the house, explaining why the government had taken some decisions for the DDP.
After, his presentation, the MPs had time to react to what had been said and during that period, three more scriptures were quoted by some MPs.
The first to quote from the Bible was the MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who was disappointed in the minister’s decision to rejoice in the face of the country’s economic crisis.
“Mr. Speaker, what is even so obnoxious and irritating is the minister’s opening remarks that this is the time to rejoice in the Lord. Jesus Christ of Nazareth! The minister forgets that in Proverbs 29:2, the Bible says that when the wicked rule, the people mourn, the people groan, there is pain. There is pain and anxiety when the wicked rule.”
He added that “This is no time to rejoice. If the minister is still rejoicing, then our problems are bigger than I ever imagined. Because it tells us that the president, his vice president, and his finance minister are in a bubble; they are totally out of touch. They are in a world of their own, and they are still in a rejoicing mood.”
Then came the turn of the MP for Nhyiaso, Stephen Amoah, who is popularly called Sticka.
Mr Amoah sought to assure the pensioners who were present in the house that the finance minister’s quote did not mean he was happy with the country’s present situation.
“1 Thessalonians 15: 16-18, the Bible states emphatically without any ambiguity, that in all circumstances we should give thanks to God and that is the will of God for his children. So our fathers and mothers it’s not that finance minister is happy with what is happening but finance minister believes in God, we all believe in God and God says that whether we’re going through pain or pleasure we should give thanks…”
He was of the view that the minority members were pushing things out of proportion.
The Member of Parliament for Asunafo South, Eric Opoku, refused to be left out of the scripture quoting as he referenced parts of the bible when he had his turn.
He made reference to a time in the Bible when a king went to the older generation for advice when important decisions needed to be made.
“Mr Speaker, typical of the finance minister, he began the statement with a quotation from the bible and I’d like to do the same thing. Mr Speaker, 1 Kings 12:6 Solomon [Rehoboam] once sought the expertise of old men who helped him make important decisions about the kingdom of Israel but Mr Speaker, he did not touch the livelihood of these old men. He sought their expertise but never touched the livelihood of these people,” he said.
The scripture reads “Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked.”
He further expressed his displeasure in the government and by extension, the finance minister’s decision to include pensioners in the domestic debt exchange programme.
“He wants to fall on the savings of the aged, our mothers and fathers who have contributed their quota to this state and as we speak, they don’t have anything to live on except the little that they have saved. The minister is saying that without the savings of these people Ghana cannot get out of the trouble.”
For him, the nation would be in a better place if the president reduced the size of his government and collapse some government institutions which are not functional.
Like other minority MPs before him, Mr Opoku ended his submission by calling on the finance minister to resign stressing that he will not be forgiven for what he has done to the country.
Reacting to this however, the speaker of parliament told the MP that even though he started his submission with a quote, his ending statement was “not biblical at all.”
Seeking to respond to this, Eric Opoku said “There is forgiveness but in the judgement day no one will be forgiven.”