Any Member of Parliament (MP) who comes to Parliament without entering the chamber will be deemed absent from parliamentary duties, Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, has ruled.
By the ruling, MPs who come to the premises of Parliament House and conduct other businesses without entering the chamber would be assumed as absent until his or her absence from the chamber was determined to be with or without permission.
Prof. Oquaye said the matter was agreed by both leaders of the House in tandem with the Speaker’s office in relation to who was absent or absent with permission.
The issue resurfaced on the floor of Parliament when Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Member of Parliament for North Tongu, extended an argument for some MPs to be marked as present during correction on votes and proceedings to admit the minutes of the House last Thursday.
He argued that the affected MPs who had been marked absent with permission was wrongly captured by the Hansard, since they were actively participating in committee affairs of the House at the time.
Mr Ablakwa contended that, since, they were on the premises of Parliament House, and were actively engaged in parliamentary duties, they should not have been marked with the tag of absence with permission, but should rather be registered at the present column.
The notification for such as a correction did not go down well with Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, Minority Chief Whip and MP for Asawase, who rebuffed the correction by stating that the issue has been clearly defined by leadership with the understanding that, MPs would be marked present only when they participated in the business of the House on the floor.
He said the idea was to discourage loitering where MPs could come to Parliament and would not make any appearance on the floor or to the mail office to register their presence.
In as much as, Mr Ablakwa tried to justify the need to mark the MPs present despite their failure to appear in the chamber did not stand as the Speaker, was emphatic on his ruling that, one’s presence in the chamber was the criteria to be marked present.
The development was coming on the heels of the Speaker’s worry about absenteeism of parliamentarians and sparse number of them on the floor to conduct business.
Though he had said on other platforms that steps were being taken to mitigate the challenges, since it was the hybrid system of governance Ghana was currently practicing, that could be the cause, and the ruling could be one way of solving the problem.
By Lawrence Markwei