The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has extended an invitation to Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to partner the Legislature to effectively perform its oversight responsibility over the Executive.
He said though the CSOs were already engaged in oversight over the Executive in areas such as good governance, anti-corruption and research, now was time for a stronger partnership for a common good. “We are committed and a signatory to open, transparent, accountable governance and participation, and making such commitment work requires stronger partnership between Parliament and CSOs for us to play our function as people representatives,” he said.
Mr Bagbin made this gesture when he met some CSOs in his office in Parliament yesterday and expressed his readiness to assign responsibilities to the organisations based on their areas of expertise.
“While we try to support and strengthen Parliament with the requisite quality human resource, we need to rely on your experience, knowledge and expertise to get things moving. “If we are able to do that at the end of the day, then Parliament itself could stand up against the all-mighty Executive to ensure that they do what the people of Ghana voted for them to do and what they promised to do is done,” he said.
In the view of the Speaker since 1993, Parliament’s focus has largely been on the Executive rather than itself and the judiciary, revealing that he met an empty office with no handing over note and supporting staff.
“I remembered we did Presidential Transition Act and so we were more concerned about transition in the Presidency, not Parliament “So, how do I get to know what happened before I came, who am I to work with, how are they going to be recruited, what is the structure of the Speaker’s secretariat, what kind of professional mix do you need in the office?
There is nothing to guide Mr Speaker,” he said. An equal arm of government, Mr Speaker said it has remained a tenant of the Executive because the premises it operates belongs to the Executive.
“If we want to use the Banquet Hall, we make an application to the Presidency and at their pleasure they will grant it to us. “Since the era of former President John Jerry Rawlings, we have been putting applications to get access to this area to be termed the Parliamentary Presence for us to also try to take control of it but up till date they have all promised us but we have never received any positive answer,” he said. Going forward, Mr Bagbin said the legislature would focus on legislation and representation including having offices for MPs in their various constituencies.
“You do not expect the MPs to legislate against themselves by approving some small money for their budget and allowing the Executive to appear before them with fat envelopes and influence them to approve what they (Executives) have brought and then the Executives go and tell people that the MPs are corrupt.
“That money should have been given to Parliament to use to empower the members; so, there are some areas Parliament wants to do but if the Executive do not agree, they will not give you the money to do it and therefore we realised that one of the weakest areas of our Parliament is oversight,” he said.
Mr Bagbin, at the post budget workshop in Ho last Saturday said Parliament and the Judiciary were requesting two per cent each of total revenue as a co-equal arm of government to run it’s programmes.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI