Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has described Parliament’s performance of its oversight responsibilities as abysmal.
According to him, the lack of capacity and inadequate resources for MPs to play their constitutional roles effectively has contributed to this.
Speaking at the inauguration of a six-member parliamentary board for the eight Parliament, he noted that, the lack of support to MPs has affected their delivery.
“How efficient and effective is our Parliament? One of the areas our Parliament has not fared well is oversight and private members legislation. Even though the performance and effectiveness of Ghana’s Parliament continues to be rated high internationally; its rating in the area of oversight is unsurprisingly low.
“I say its unsurprising because Parliament and its committees lack the needed support and assistance to perform their oversight functions. I must admit, this unfortunate development has been the practice of almost all government since the beginning of the fourth republic.
Mr. Bagbin further recounted having to call the Ministry of Finance to order. He explained that, the Ministry in March, attempted to unilaterally place a ceiling on the budget of Parliament.
“This development, has undoubtedly affected the capacity of Parliament to effectively and efficiently perform its oversight duties. I’ll admit, that there have been some modest in the appropriation for Parliament… but it is still far inadequate to meet the optimal requirement of the House.
Private Members Bill
In July last year, Parliament adopted the proposal for the enactment of the Private Members’ Bill. The bill is to make the introduction of bills in Parliament for consideration no longer the sole prerogative of the Executive.
Touching on this, Mr. Bagbin revealed that, poor interpretation of the bill by Parliament has caused its delay.
According to him, the interpretation of what the bill constitutes sought to place a “fetter” on the capacity of members to initiate and present the for the consideration of the House.
“Again, in the area of private members bills, I must admit that as a House, we have not helped ourselves because of the inadequate interpretation given to the Article 108 of the constitution by previous Speakers”.Alban Bagbin
He further revealed that, even if Speakers were to give the Article a more “liberal” interpretation, they didn’t have technical personnel to put their thoughts to paper.
High Attrition rate
On his part, Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Bonsu called on the Speaker to address the high attrition rate in the House.
According to him, the high attrition rate that Members of Parliament are subjected to is “not comforting”. He further explained that, the issue must be “jointly addressed” by members from both sides of Parliament.
“In particular, relating to the various political parties… Mr Speaker I think it’s important that we engage the political parties in this discourse to really relate to the attrition rate of Members of Parliament.
“Unfortunately, the constitutions of the two political parties both NPP and NDC is not helping to grow our parties. Let’s not kid ourselves…we must strengthen Parliament going forward”.Osei KyeI Bonsu
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