We absent ourselves from parliament to solve challenges – Kyei-Mensah Bonsu

Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Leader, has attributed the increasing rate of absenteeism in Parliament to the huge financial burden on Members of Parliament (MPs).

“Most MPs absent themselves to look for money to solve financial challenges they incurred during the electoral process,” Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu noted, calling for a review of processes for electing MPs to address the challenge.

Speaking at a forum for Core Leadership of Parliament, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who is also the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, insisted that “MPs must go round looking for contracts, leaving the chamber and the work to be borne by few people…Workload is borne by a group of not more than 50 MPs”.

“The rest of them are just up on other matters in town. We must be serious with ourselves. If we really want to build a strong parliament, let us completely review what processes and procedures we are subjecting MPs and aspiring MPs to,” he pointed ou

The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Oquaye, on several occasions raised concerns over non-attendance of parliamentary sessions by most members. In October 2017, Prof. Mike Oquaye was angry with MPs for being late for meetings of the House. His comments followed the presence of not more than five MPs on their seats, at the time proceedings were scheduled to begin at 10am.

Disappointed by the emptiness of the House, he rebuked them and charged leaders of the House to get members on the floor to do business on time, saying, “Taxpayers do not expect lateness from us. The citizenry who pay us expect work should be done, so let us take the opportunity to see how we can contain the situation to ameliorate the challenge rather than taking advantage to absent ourselves.

The increasing rate of absenteeism has been identified by some civil society groups as a serious challenge to development of legislature. The First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu, recently noted that MPs who absent themselves without any explanation would be sanctioned.

Ministers of state who double as MPs were worst culprits of absenteeism without permission during the first and second sittings of the Seventh Parliament, 2017. Ministers, including deputies, absented themselves from at least 15 sittings without the permission of the Speaker of Parliament. This was contained in a report by Odekro, a civil society organisation focused on activities of the legislature. According to the report, guilty MPs consisted of 18 ministers and 21 deputy ministers.

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