The Majority and the Minority leadership in Parliament have touted Ghana’s legislature as a beacon of hope for democratic governance in Africa that needs to be celebrated by Ghanaians as the world marks the International Day of Parliamentarism yesterday.
They said since January 1993, Parliament had in diverse ways partnered the Executive and the Judiciary to reposition the country on the path of uninterrupted socio-economic development, peace and stability.
They, however, called for the various committees of Parliament to be rekindled and re-invigorated to improve the competence, experience and knowledge of Members of Parliament (MPs) to allow the Legislature perform its oversight responsibilities more effectively.
The Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who is also the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, and the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, made the observation in interviews with the Daily Graphic in connection with the International Day of Parliamentarism, which fell yesterday.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (left) and Mr Haruna Iddrisu
June 30 is the day designated to celebrate the International Day of Parliamentarism.
The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution A/RES/72/278, recognised the role of Parliaments in national plans and strategies and in ensuring greater transparency and accountability at national and global levels.
The UN set aside the day to celebrate parliaments and the ways in which parliamentary systems of government improve the day-to-day lives of people the world over.
It is also an opportunity for parliaments to take stock, identify challenges, and ways to address them effectively.
Parliament is indispensable
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who explained the various legislative, representational and financial control functions of Parliament and the role in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), said for the first time in the history of the country, Parliament had been able to help Ghana achieve stability and serenity.
He said under a constitutional administration in the Fourth Republic, Ghana had not experienced any interruption in its democratic governance for 28 years, a reason for which Parliament ought to be celebrated.
As an arm of government, he said it was Parliament that was disbanded whenever there was a coup d’état, while the Executive and the Judiciary were able to continue one way or another uninterrupted.
Deficit in performance
The Minister of Parliamentary Affairs said while Parliament needed to strongly assert its oversight responsibility over the Executive, “I recognise there is a deficit in our performance of our oversight responsibilities”.
“The committees of Parliament are the work horses of every Legislature that are used to oversee the Executive, but unfortunately our committees are not strong and we are working to improve the competences of the committees,” he said.
Mr Iddrisu noted that the woes of Ghana’s Parliament from 1993 had been the premium placed on partisanship against the State and public interests.
“We need Parliament to be stronger and more responsive to the needs of the people and we need Parliament to be more accountable,” he said.
In a bid to make Parliament stronger, he said the leadership of Parliament was currently revising the Standing Orders of the Legislature.
“I have maintained that until Parliament positions itself from being a clearing House for Executive embarrassment, we will never be respected or honoured,” he said.
In terms of value for money, he said Parliament had often been found wanting given the speed with which it approved many loan agreements.
“But undoubtedly, Ghana remains a beacon of hope and a celebrated democracy; we can do better and we can improve our system,” he said, commending the Speaker of Parliament for initiating reforms to build a stronger and motivated Parliamentary Service,” he said. . – #GhanaVotes2020#