Parliament handicapped in fight against corruption— Bagbin

ALBAN SUMANA BAGBINMr. Alban S. K. Bagbin, Majority Leader, has said that Parliament cannot effectively fight corruption if the constitution is not amended to give it (Parliament), the absolute independence to operate.

According to him, the constitutional mandate given to the President to appoint Members of Parliament (MPs) as Cabinet Ministers, makes it difficult for the House to confront the Executive on issues relating to corruption.

The Majority Leader, who is also the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Nadowli-Kaleo in the Upper West Region, said this at the Third Dialogue Series organised by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), in Accra yesterday.

The topic was, “Effectiveness of Parliament in Ghana’s Democracy”.

Mr. Ignatius Baffour Awuah, New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Sunyani West in the Brong-Ahafo Region and the Minority Chief Whip who deputised for the Minority Leader, Mr. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, also supported the Majority Leader’s call for the constitutional amendment to insulate Parliament against the Executive influence and control, saying Parliament could work effectively and efficiently if only there is true separation of powers.

The programme was used to also launch the NCCE’s Research Report on, “Assessing the Effectiveness of Parliament in Ghana’s Democracy.” The 44-page report is a cross-sectional study conducted as a national sample survey covering 72 districts in Ghana, where 2,910 respondents were interviewed.

Areas covered in the survey included the public’s assessment of the work of parliamentarians, public measurement of effectiveness of parliament and parliamentarians, hindrances to parliament’s work, suggestions and recommendations towards making parliament more effective.

The findings or respondents’ views were that executive control, corruption, party loyalty, lack of gender balance and consistent interactions between MPs and constituents, as well as boycott of parliamentary proceedings among others, hindered the effectiveness of Parliament, thus resulting in the unsatisfactory or abysmal performance of the Legislature. The report also said that some of the MPs used their positions to amass wealth to the detriment of the citizens.

The two discussants who represented their parties (Majority and Minority) in Parliament, accepted the findings in good faith and described the report as “fair, credible and reliable”.

Mr. Bagbin said that Ghana’s Parliament has been structured towards consensus building and not structured to be on the throat of the Executive, and promised that parliament would do everything within its means to purge itself of the perceived corruption hanging on its neck like an albatross.

He stated that, Parliament is feverishly working towards amending the Standing Orders to allow the media to cover committee sittings for Ghanaians to know how effective parliamentarians go about their work or duties saying, “Because we do not allow the media to cover the committee sittings, our work is not always appreciated by our constituents,” he said.

Mr. William Hanna, Ambassador and Head of the European Union to Ghana, who launched the report said that, Ghana’s democracy would be more vibrant if Parliament is transparent, accountable and effective.

The Chairman of NCCE, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, said the commission would work assiduously to educate the citizenry on the role of Parliament, but advised Parliamentarians to also desist from the promises they make to the their constituents during campaigns which cannot be fulfilled.

Participants included past and present MPs, political party representatives, security agencies, traditional rulers, academia, CSOs and NCCE clubs.

 

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