Strengthen to fight corruption- Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu.

Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu

Ghana’s  fight against corruption will be a perpetual mirage if Parliament is not strengthened to independently hold the executive accountable, the Majority Leader, Osei Kye-Mensah-Bonsu has stated.

He said in most countries, the ultimate control of the national kitty rests with the legislature but “regrettably” it is not so in Ghana’s case as it is not involved in the stages of budgeting to match allocations with declared policies.

Speaking at a day’s consultative meeting in Accra yesterday on how corruption could be nipped in the bud, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said Parliament’s committees are “weak” and unable to carry out their respective duties effectively.

The structure of the committee system meant to track the work of ministries, departments and agencies, and conduct special investigations, he said, has not attained the desired results since Ghana returned to democratic rule in 1992.

“Unfortunately, the very structure of the committee system in Parliament is not helping Ghana’s Parliament to assert itself. A Parliament is as strong as its committees make it and if you have weak committees, your parliament will be weak.”

He said the weaknesses in Ghana’s Parliamentary structure are evident in a research conducted by the Parliamentary Centre, a Canadian agency which assesses parliaments around the globe, where Ghana’s Parliament placed 11 on a 12-parlaimentary rating log.

“Our committee systems are weak” and it is so because unlike in other jurisdictions where committees are chaired according to the numerical strength of parties in Parliament, “in Ghana’s Parliament, that is not the case,” the Suame MP said.

To the extent that since 1992, the party that controls the executive controls the majority of seats, “you have people who don’t really measure up there chairing committees” because the experienced lawmakers are made ministers leaving inexperienced lawmakers to chair the committees.

He said though there were constitutional constraints working against Parliament, for example in the selection of the Speaker where the President has interest, “right from the word go, the House is weakened. In my view, this must be looked at again.”

In his view, there are some institutions which Parliament should be concerned about and given oversight responsibility if the country really wants to win the fight against corruption.

“The Auditor-General must be a tool for Parliament to oversee the executive” he said, adding that allowing the President to appoint commissioners to the Electoral Commission was not in the interest of the country because “there is the tendency of the President packing the EC with cronies and people who will do his bidding.”

He also blamed political parties for opening the floodgate for primaries every four years for the Parliamentary elections stating that “that is the beginning of corruption” as such candidates spend hundreds of Ghana cedis to campaign to be elected.


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