Mr Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, Minority Leader, on Thursday stressed that criticisms from the opposition parties in Parliament are not meant to destabilize ruling governments, but to put them on their toes.
The Minority Leader who is also the New Patriotic Party Member of Parliament (MP) for Suame, made this known when a team of Parliamentarians undertook an outreach programme to the Upper-East Region to explain the roles of Parliament to the constituents and to solicit for their views on how to enhance the work of Parliament.
According Mr Mensah-Bonsu among the key roles of the opposition party in Parliament, is to ensure that the public purse is protected well to certify value for money in government work. “We do this for the interest of the development of the nation. Our constructive criticisms are therefore not meant to destabilize the government as perceived by others”, he stressed.
He mentioned the legislative functions as approval of bills, information functions, representation functions, ratification of international conventions and treaties, bringing legitimacy to businesses and economic fronting functions among others.
The MP indicated that Parliament also has an oversight responsibility to ensure that all projects and programmes it had approved are implemented to the letter, as well as ensure that budgets allotted to such projects and programmes are not misappropriated or diverted into individuals pockets.
Mr Mensah-Bonsu mentioned the attrition rate of MPs as one of the major challenges confronting the work of parliament, and expressed regret that it was unfortunate that Parliamentarians who had gained a lot of experience from their long service in Parliament were voted out and new ones elected.
He pointed out that this was not helping the work of Parliament as the new ones lacked experience to contribute effectively on the floor of the house, and noted that when such a phenomenon occurs, government will have to spend huge sums of money to give orientation to new Parliamentarians to be able to adjust to issues of the house.
“In 2013, out of the 275 MPs over 140 of them were new faces, and the government will have to spend more money organizing orientation programmes for them to catch up. It is better for us to maintain our MPs who have served long and gained wider experience to bring quality to the discussions of the house and more development to our constituencies”, the Minority Leader stressed.
The Second Deputy Majority Whip, Mr Ibrahim Ahmed, who is also the MP for the Banda Constituency, disabused the minds of Ghanaians about the work of parliament, and said the Majority and Minority in Parliament work on consensus building basis by putting the development of the nation above their partisan interests. “We disagree to agree all aimed at putting the government on its toes to ensure that the best is achieved for the country”, he intimated.
Participants called on Parliamentarians to work to ensure that the ambulance services are included in the National Health Insurance Scheme to facilitate the conveyance of pregnant women in critical conditions to major health facilities.
They also lamented over the unemployment situation in the country, particularly among the youth, and stressed the need for the MPs to work with government to see how they could help tackle the problem.
Other issues that emerged at the forum included state funding of Political Parties and the need for the MPs to thoroughly look into the fraudulent scandal that hit the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority and to ensure that it achieved the purpose for which it was established.
The Upper East Regional Minister, Dr Ephraim Avea Nsoh who welcomed the participants commended the leadership of parliament for initiating the programme and said it would give the electorate a better understanding of the work of the Parliamentarian and reduce the constant untoward demands of constituents from MPs.
The forum which was sponsored by STAR-Ghana attracted a large number of people from all walks of life, including people from the constituency level in the Region.