Senior Advisor for Africa Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption, Professor David Abdulai, has called for the introduction and use of technology to ensure members of parliament are present at parliamentary sittings.
According to him, the issue of absenteeism among MPs from a number of sittings in parliament must be effectively dealt with. Prof Abdulai noted that it was about time Parliament introduced a biometric system to ensure Parliamentarians attended Parliament regularly.
“Somebody was saying that the electorates should punish them for not doing government business, I think that is farfetched. My issue is that we can use technology efficiently and effectively to make sure that we can make sure these MPs are actually in Parliament. I mean there’s no way that your biometric thumbprint will be the same as another MP’s’ so you cannot have your name smuggled in into the attendance sheet”.Professor David Abdulai
His comments followed assertions made by Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa on the issue of MPs absenteeism in recent times which the legislator reckons has been adversely affecting Parliamentary business.
Prof Abdulai indicated that some MPs had been clandestinely writing their names on the attendance sheet without being in the House to partake in parliament’s business. Thus, he iterated that a biometric system would prevent absent MPs from continuing the act. Additionally, Prof Abdulai noted that it was unnecessary to burden electorates to punish their MPs for absenteeism when that could be done by the House itself.
“You’ll have to be there and then till the end of the sitting. So, that is one way I think that is important for us to address the absenteeism”.Professor David Abdulai
MPs must appreciate their essence to be in parliament
Prof Abdulai expressed that legislators must bear in mind the real purpose of their presence in parliament. This, he explained, was not to represent their personal interests but rather that of their constituents and as such must diligently exact their duties.
“But also our MPs should understand that they’re voted into Parliament to do business of the people. At the end of the day they’re not representing themselves, it is important that we get it clearly for them to understand that it is their duty to always be there unless they’re out in their constituencies dealing with other issues which they do. But at least for not showing up just because they don’t feel like it”.Professor David Abdulai
On his part, Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, revealed that in his quest to curb the issue of absenteeism in parliament, he “served notice” in parliament last week to present a formal application to the Speaker. He explained that this is intended to ensure the House takes action on the matter.
Citing the constitutional provision in Article 97 (1) c, which he describes as “very clear” with “no ambiguity”, he said that “… a member of parliament shall vacate his seat in parliament if he is absent without permission in writing to the Speaker and he is unable to offer a reasonable explanation to the parliamentary committee on privileges for fifteen sitting for a meeting of parliament…”
Following this, Mr Ablakwa intimated that his side has done the necessary investigation and it is clear that there are three MPs who have questions to answers. He noted that the actions of absenteeism has been rife because sanctions have not been effected, further expressing the need for redress of the matter in parliament.