The Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Member of Parliament (MP) for Suame Constituency in the Ashanti Region, Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has revealed that the scrapping of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MoPA) by the then National Democratic Congress (NDC) led government disrupted work of the ministry for eight (8) years.
According to him between 2009 and 2016, an imposed hiatus by the two previous administrations on MoPA, based on rather proven untenable reasons, disrupted the work of the ministry for eight years but was happy that since its re-in-statement in 2017, by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the Ministry has justified its place in the arena of governance.
The Parliamentary Affairs Minister who also doubled as the Majority Leader and head of government business made this revelation during his ministry’s dialogue with the expanded leadership of Parliament of the 7th Parliament of the 4th Republic in Accra.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu explained that one of the core mandates of MoPA is to enable an effective interface between the Executive and the Legislature, thus everything possible should be done to maintain its operations.
“By the nature of my work, I have the good fortune of straddling the executive committee of Cabinet and Committees of the Legislature. By this I have the privilege of appreciating the work of both arms of government and uniquely positioned to lead reforms. It is my position that civil society is most virulent in societies where Parliaments are weak. Let us pool together and build the internal structures that will strengthen our committees and by extension our Parliament. Let us make this interaction engaging and honest.” He stressed.
On his part the Chief Director of MoPA, Dr. Evans Aggrey-Darkoh in his welcome address explained why the Parliament’s Committee System is paramount in the scheme of parliamentary work. Saying both the Ghana’s 1992 Constitution and Standing Orders of Parliament recognise the crucial role of committees in the work of the House.
Dr. Aggrey-Darkoh further explained the framers of the 1992 Constitution envisioned the effect of an efficient Committee System on the work of Parliament. Article 103 (1) of the 1992 Constitution empowers Parliament to appoint Standing Committees and other committees for effective discharge of its functions.
He went further to say Section 156 of the Standing Orders of Parliament also start that “the Standing and Select Committees of the House shall be constituted and shall be assigned such functions as are specified in the Orders.” This and other provisions, established a firm legal basis for the functioning of committees in Ghana’s Parliament.
According to him the sheer volume of business in Parliament makes it impossible for members to transact every business in plenary and, hence, the Committee System. The committees track the work of Ministries, Departments, Agencies and bodies and conduct special investigations and inquiries into particular salient aspects of their policy and administration. He added.
Chief Director of MoPA pointed out that his outfit knows that the committee system is indispensable to modern legislatures because all complex organisations operate through delegation of authority. It is in the committee rooms where the contents of public policies are shaped, various Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) heard and legislation fashioned out.
He maintained that the committees provide an increased ability for Parliament to scrutinize government policy and expenditure, tap into the expertise of individuals and groups and facilitate increased level of collegiality between members from different political parties.
“Indeed, an empowered and well function committee system builds a resilient foundation for evidence-based legislation, act as a bipartisan bridge-builder and give members more stakes in ensuring the success of bills.
The ministry is confident that the consensus reached on the introduction on private members bill would in the near future pave way for private members to initiate bills with the hope that even if they do not end at the legislation stage, they would have succeeded in putting a particular issue on the public agenda for future consideration.” Dr. Aggrey-Darkoh said.
Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH