1st Deputy Speaker chastises 15 absentee MPs for clocking in

THE First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu, has exposed 15 Members of Parliament (MPs) for smuggling their names into the votes and proceedings as present when they were absent. 

Without mentioning names, Mr Osei-Owusu said the lawmakers in question were not in parliament on Wednesday June 12, 2019, but their names have been captured in the votes and proceedings – the provisional record of the previous sitting – as being present on that day. 

According to him, the practice, which has been ongoing for some time now is “bad” and casts a slur upon the integrity and credibility of MPs and the legislature as a whole. 

“There are so many members whose names appear [in the votes and proceedings] as present, whose traces never showed anywhere [around parliament yesterday].  As I run through [the votes and proceedings], I have marked about 15 names from the record of yesterday that I did not see anywhere [near parliament], they don’t belong to the committees which were meeting yesterday. I know for a fact.

“How did their names get onto our record…and this borders on our integrity and it is important that we do not give room for people to doubt our integrity.

“There are some people I have noted. Every day I check, their names are here [in the votes and proceedings] but I haven’t seen them here in a whole month. That practice is bad and we should not encourage it. 

“We should not encourage the practice where people either enter their names and go and do their private business or sit in their office, watch proceedings [on television] and claim that they are in the chamber,” Mr Osei-Owusu, MP, Bekwai, fired at the commencement of proceedings of the House yesterday. 

The exposé of the First Deputy Speaker came when the Deputy Minority Leader and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, James Klutse Avedzi, complained that though he was present, his name was marked absent. 

Vouching for his leader’s presence in parliament on Wednesday, Sam George, MP, Ningo Prampram raised the alarm that some of his colleagues, even if absent, have been recorded to be present. 

This claim, did not go down well with the Member for Okaikwei Central, Patrick Boamah, who challenged Sam George to substantiate the allegation which he thought tarnishes the image of members. 

But Joe Wise, as the First Deputy Speaker is affectionately called, said Sam George “is right”.

He stressed that permission to be absent or attend to other businesses out of parliament was allowed and that “once you file for leave of absence, it is granted”, urging all members to report to the chamber before attending to committee works. 

“For those who have other official assignments, the Standing Orders are clear. Seek permission from Mr Speaker,” he told the MPs. 

The Bekwai MP cautioned the errant MPs that “If you claim to be in parliament but you are found to be doing something else, that is a matter that deserves to be reproachable at the Privileges Committee.” 

Per the tradition of the House, members are supposed to report to the mails room, and sign against their names as present.

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