THE Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, has challenged Parliament to lead the fight against procurement related corruption by ensuring that value for money audits are a prerequisite to all projects approved by the House.
According to the Tamale South lawmaker, that was the only way Parliament could have the moral authority to exercise its constitutional oversight responsibility over persons and institutions who engage in the breach of the procurement process.
“Charity they say begins at home. The exercise of oversight and Parliament as the controller of the public purse imposes an onerous responsibility on Parliament in safeguarding the public purse and ensuring that monies otherwise which should go into corruption, thwarting national development, are [re]directed,” he stated.
Mr Iddrisu was speaking at a two-day workshop for the leadership of some select committees of Parliament on Saturday in Koforidua which was aimed at enhancing their capacities in parliamentary oversight through public procurement.
Under the auspices of the Office of the Minister of State in Charge of Public Procurement and on the theme, ‘Enhancing parliamentary oversight through public procurement’ some of the committees at the workshop include Finance, Roads and Transport, Public Accounts, Defence and Interior and Mines and Energy.
The Majority and Minority caucuses of the House had over the years engaged in fierce debates over value for money audits anytime project agreements came before them.
While the Minority caucus insisted on value for money audits before such agreements got parliamentary blessing, the Majority caucus argued that same would be provided in the course of execution.
The latest example is the GH¢2 billion Sinohydro deal in which Mr Iddrisu led Minority’s request for a value for money audit before the agreement received parliamentary endorsement was shot down by the Majority.
Without referring to the above instance, Mr Iddrisu said examples like this are “a wrong we are doing to our country. That is a wrong. A procurement wrong by Parliament, and I am saying from 1993 to yesterday.”
“We should develop a new way of thought where you will hear committee chairmen rise, whether under NDC or NPP and say, ‘I recommend that this report is adopted, subject to value for money,'” he said.
To him, approving deals before value for money audits were done was an indictment on Parliament and the oversight responsibility it was clothed with.
“We have to, as a Parliament, redefine our role in this regard, regardless of our political party. We should say that ‘No value for money, no recommendation for approval on any matter that come to Parliament whether projects or others,” he said to applauds.
The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament and MP for Bekwai, Joseph Osei-Owusu, addressing the gathering blamed both the NPP and the NDC for succumbing to ethical and political pressure which resulted in bending procurement rules.
“We are dishonest people. We all know the rules but we don’t like following the rules,” he bemoaned.
In his view, the politician was not the only sect of society guilty of dishonesty but the citizenry who always want the political class to breach laid-down procedures for their personal gain.
Mr Osei-Owusu said though the country was changing, the development was not commensurate to meet the demands of the people.
He has, thus entreated his colleagues to live up to high ethical standards and put the interest of the country first in all they do for the betterment of the country.
FROM JULIUS YAO PETETSI, KOFORIDUA.