Odekro: Punitive measures needed to curb MPs absenteeism

Nii Ashitey Armah, a principal lead with Odekro, a research institution, focusing on Parliament, has suggested punitive measures to curb the phenomenon of absenteeism among Members of Parliament (MPs). 

“We are curious MPs whom the constituents have vested power and spent resources on, do as they wish when they have to ensure the right things are done, if I were to be in the shoes of the Speaker, I will have cracked the whip by now,” he stressed.

His comment follows the caution by the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Oquaye to MPs once again, to take the sitting of the House seriously after it registered low numbers on the floor when sitting started around 10:15am Thursday.

When sitting commenced only about 15 MPs were present necessitating the Speaker telling MPs the need to prioritise sitting at the plenary over anything else although there were supposed to be committee meetings which could have taken MPs away from the House, none of those meetings was in session as at 10am when sitting started.

The Mines and Energy Committee was supposed to be meeting at 1 pm to deliberate on the performance of National Electrification Development Company (NEDCO) and the Employment and Social Welfare Committee was supposed to also be meeting at 11.30 am as well as the Special Budget Committee which was scheduled to meet officers of the Electoral Commission at 4pm.

According to Parliament’s Standing Orders, the Speaker could sanction an MP for missing 14 days sittings continuously without any permission from the Speaker.

But Nii Armah noted that Thursday’s attendance was not the worse because, in October 2017, the Speaker met only four MPs at the beginning of the day’s session, it has been happening regularly because they are never sanctioned.

“Per the rules of the House, MPs have to sign Parliament’s Leave of Absence form which has to be approved by their leaders before the Speaker gives final approval, that has not been adhered to resulting in increased absenteeism,” he lamented.

For his part, Alexander Abban, Vice Chairman of Parliament’s Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee, attributed their absenteeism to MPs having divided attention which is a perennial problem, a way to self actualisation not necessarily contributing to core mandate as legislators,” Mr Abban cautioned.

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