Majority Leader responds to 450-seater parliament
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Leader in Parliament and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs on Thursday said discussions on the proposed construction of a new chamber building for the House were still ongoing and no decision has been taken by Leadership on the matter yet.
He explained that the project, a new 450-seater chamber, was being considered at the level of the Parliamentary Service Board (PSB), and denied media claims that the project has support from the Executive.
Since last Friday, the issue of the new 450-seater parliament has generated a lot of public interest and conversations have gone on in both traditional and social media.
Last Friday, the architectural design for the new chamber building was out-doored by the Parliamentary Service Board (PSB) at a media briefing on the project attended by the Speaker Prof Mike Aaron Oquaye and the Leadership of Parliament
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who is also a member of the Board, told a press conference at the Parliament House, in Accra, that the reason for the encounter was to put out relevant information on the proposed new 450-seater parliament.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu also used the occasion to apologize to Members of Parliament (MPs), saying it is inappropriate for MPs to hear about this in the press for the first time when they should have been briefed on the matter much earlier.
He said it is most unfortunate that some people are beginning to personalize the issue, saying he (Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu) was defending the construction of the new chamber building.
He said as a person he may have his own ideas but he belongs to a collective body and that what he did was to put out the important information on the project to the people.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu also stated that the genesis for a new chamber block began at the time of Justice Adeline Bamford-Addo, when the House felt that the time had come to look for a suitable place for Parliament.
He added that even before the speakership of Justice Addo, Parliament had secured a parcel of land near Trassaco which was going to be developed into a parliamentary enclave.
However, along the line, the parcel of land meant for the parliamentary village got encroached upon by developers.
He said later the House came back to start the refurbishment of the Job 600 to serve as offices for the MPs and alongside came the discussion for the construction new chamber building.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu also explained of all the three arms of government, it is only the Legislature which does not have its own enclave compared to the executive and the judiciary which have their own territory.
He said the land on which the current parliament is situated and the Job 600 complex still belonged to the State Protocol, adding that Parliament was still working to secure this precinct.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu further stated that discussions on the process, financials and contract have not been concluded.
He argued that if the agreement was firmed up it would definitely have to come to Parliament for members to approve it.
He said whatever decision that Parliament would come out with on the new chamber building they have to factor in the sensibilities of the people of Ghana.
Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu, scheduled to attend the press conference, was absent, for which the Majority Leader explained that he had been caught up another assignment.