New Parliamentary Committee To Hold Public Hearings

The Parliamentary Committee on Government Assurances is gearing up to exact its oversight role over the Executive as the legislative body is in the process of convening public hearings to hold Ministers of State accountable for their promises.

The Committee will commence public hearings from October this year.

The Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Emmanuel Bedzrah, who disclosed this at a media briefing said the process, as per the standing orders of the House, would seek to query Ministers on the fulfillment of undertakings they had made to the people.

This, he said, would engender transparency and accountability and compel ministers to deliver on all promises and the agenda of government.

Mr. Bedzrah explained that the Committee was currently shoring up its capacity by acquainting itself with best practices in other countries like India.

The Committee is also undertaking a codification of all government assurances and drawing up a programme requiring ministers to give timelines to those promises.

Though the 1992 Constitution allows Parliament to sanction Ministers, the Committee would name and shame any Ministers who might not live up to their promises, and make the appropriate recommendations to the House.

Currently, the Appointment and Public Accounts Committees of Parliament are the only two known bodies to hold public hearings. The Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises is also expected in due course to hold public hearings.

The work of Parliamentary Committee on Government Assurances is being sponsored by Strengthening Transparency, Accountability and Responsiveness in Ghana (Star-Ghana), a multi-donor pooled funding mechanism, aimed at increasing the influence of civil society and Parliament in the governance of public goods and service delivery.

Star-Ghana is being supported by development partners such as the USAID, DANIDA, DFID and the European Union.

Mr Joe Baidoe-Ansah, Ranking Member of the Parliamentary Committee on Government Assurances, and Member of Parliament for Kwesimintsim, said the Committee, which had been dormant, had decided to live up to its mandate to make sure that Parliament plays its oversight role effectively and get the Ministers to live up to expectation.

According to him, the process should not be seen as witch-haunt but that which would improve transparency and accountability in governance.

Alhaji Tanko Ibrahim, Programmes Manager of Star-Ghana, said the committee’s work was important for the survival of democracy and that the process would help to deepen the dividends of democracy.