Parliament must bite – Legislators

Accra, July 14, GNA – Members of Parliament on Tuesday expressed resentment at the ‘blatant’ disregard of the authority of the House by some Ministers, insisting that Parliament needs to ‘bite’ to show its independence of the Executive.

The lawmakers were angered that cabinet ministers and their deputies are stalling and undermining the work of the Parliament.

The MPs therefore asked the Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho to bring sanctions to bear on such errant members of the Executive to prove as a deterrent to others.

The consternation was in connection with the inability of the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, and his two deputies to honour the House’s invitation to answer questions on the steps being taken to prevent floods in Accra and other regional capitals following the June 3, floods and fire disasters that claimed more than 150 lives.

The Minister had for the third been unable to present himself, neither his two deputies, for reasons unknown.

When the invitation first went out, the Ministry communicated to the House that the Minister and his team would be away to the Northern Region on a national sanitation day exercise, however for the second time no reason was assigned and their appearance had to be rescheduled for this week.

Mr Adjaho told the House that the Clerks at table, within the last 24 hours received communication from the Ministry that the Minister and his two deputies were out of the Jurisdiction and therefore would not be present to honour the invitation of the House.

However, Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak, Majority Chief Whip indicated that as part of his duties, he communicated with the deputy ministers reminding them of their assignment in the House for which they assured him of their presence.

‘I am personally disappointed by the behaviour of the Minister and his two deputies, especially when all of them are members of this House and know very well the rules of the Legislature.

‘They have been informed adequately through the laid down procedures… I have given the deputies several reminders and even this morning I called them…I have been calling them for the past 40 minutes and they are not responding to my calls.

‘They keep coming up with one excuse or the other for the Order Paper to be amended. They think Parliament should pander to their whims and caprices,’ asking the Speaker to take the necessary action if the Minister or his deputies do not appear before the House on Wednesday, July 15, to answer the urgent questions,’ he said.

Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, MP for Manhyia South said it was because of the attitude of some Ministers to the work of parliament that Ghanaians often ridicule the House.

He said it was time that Parliament exert its authority and stop pampering ministers.

Mr Ignatius Baffuor Awuah, the member for Sunyani West was of the opinion that it was time the Legislature exert its influence and show it is independent of the Executive.

‘It is about time to show that the Legislature is independent of the Executive.

‘This House should for once bite this ministers to show the House has powers,’ he said, imploring the Speaker to summon the Local Government Minister and his two deputies to answer why they have not attended to the House.

Paapa Owusu Ankomah, MP for Sekondi was saddened that some ministers who have been invited to answer questions in the Sixth Parliament of the Fourth republic are ‘undermining the authority of Parliament and compelling the Speaker to invoke the powers of the House’.

‘The matter is even more serious when it is ministers who are also members of the House who are behaving like this,’ he lamented, adding, ‘The president should tell his ministers to take matters seriously.’

The Minority Leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu said the attitude of the ministers was an affront to the authority of Parliament.

‘Their conduct is stalling the conduct of business in this House’, he said.

However, the Deputy Majority Leader, Alfred Agbesi asked the Speaker to rule on the matter if the ministers do not attend to the House tomorrow as agreed.

Speaker Adjaho, visibly vexed, summoned the ministers to appear on Wednesday to answer those burning questions ‘or appropriate sanctions would be brought against them’.

‘The democratic path we have chosen should not be allowed to be undermined…The Right of the House over the executive should always stand,’ he said.

‘A serious national disaster of this magnitude, and a minister is not availing himself to answer inform this honourable House. This kind of behaviour fuels the perception that the House is useless.

‘If none of the deputies are in the House tomorrow, we will decide what to do with them…We cannot tolerate this in this House.’

GNA


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