Opinions Sun, 9 Jul 2017

A look at Ghana's Parliament

The current parliament which came into being under the 1992 constitution is the house of representatives for the entire people of Ghana.

Like modern day parliaments the world over , it has three main functions that include representing the electorates; making laws and overseeing the government through hearing and enquiries.

The work of Ghana’s parliament goes deeper to the extent of having investigative and judicial powers.

A careful look at the performance of our parliament since its inception shows that we have made progress as a nation and it can safely be said that we need to encourage our legislators instead of running them all down.

We can talk of committees of parliament whose works have led to the discovery of rots in government agencies. The duties of some of the committees have led to social and economic development of the nation.

In spite of the progress they are making there may be some slips in their duties, parliament being a human institution.

But It is alleged that the entire parliament has become a den of crooks only good at extorting monies before they perform their duties.

To aid them in their duties the legislators must have gone in for some cash from government agencies civil society bodies and international donor agencies. This does not mean the entire house could be accused of bribe taking.

The assertion by a Financial Analyst and Social commentator Casely Hayford which represent the views of some Ghanaians that the MPs are a bunch of persons who just sit in parliament to make stupid decisions and pass stupid laws is not right.

His statement that “These people are sitting there, spending money like crazy, making stupid decisions, and passing stupid laws” is also not right.

At least he is working together with lawyers on the Occupy Ghana and must know that before the allegations made against the MPs are established it is wrong for the honorable men to be taken to the cleaners. If nothing at all some civil society bodies have called for a probe into the allegations against the MPs. As a result of that

The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Ocquaye has tasked the leadership of the House to within one week come up with a cogent approach towards dealing with alleged bribery claims against Parliament Committees’ sittings outside the capital, Accra.

The directive follows recent allegations that National Lottery Authority (NLA) paid over GHc150, 000 to facilitate a meeting over the Lotteries Bill that failed to pass last year; a revelation that has called the integrity of Parliament into question once again.

Following agitations from some Members of Parliament (MPs) on the floor on Friday over the matter, the Speaker indicated that this was an opportunity for Parliament to take a holistic look at the relationship between the committees of Parliament and parastatals and other bodies that have legislative concerns.

Some members’ parliament who fear that their reputations would be ruined by the allegations against the are asking for reforms including restricting parliament to hold all committee meetings in Accra.

The order by the leadership of parliament to go into the allegation of bribery against the MPs is the way to go. All those interested in this matter must wait for the outcome of the probe into it.

If they know they have done nothing wrong The allegations made against the MPs must not discourage them. They must continue to perform their duties in and outside parliament for god and country.

With my experience working with MPs I have learnt that MPs are the most troubled by the electorates who demand cash from them for school fees, funeral donations and other activities unrelated to their work.

The MPs are a group of people whose families hardly get them at home especially at the weekends due to numerous assignments in and out of town. The amounts of money paid to them as per diem might not be enough to meet rather expenditure as the work for the entire nation and the world at large.

While not holding brief for the MPs it’s my desire that we should wait for the report on the allegations on them otherwise whatever we say now about the MPs would be prejudicial

Columnist: Abdulai Alhasan
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