General News of Wednesday, 25 January 2017
Nineteen Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic did not make any contribution or statement on the floor of the House throughout the tenure of office, a 2016 report on the performance of the legislators has revealed.
The study, which was carried out by Odekro, a STAR-Ghana-sponsored initiative, further showed that 12 of those MPs lost their seats at the 2016 polls.
According to the report, which was launched in Accra yesterday, only 52 of the 275-member legislature, representing 18.9 per cent of the house, contributed to the amendment of 81 bills that were approved by the house within the period.
The reports further stated that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MPs made an average of 199 statements over the four years, as against 166 of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Touching on the overall performance of MPs, the document revealed that 255 of the 275 MPs made at least one contribution to debates on the floor of the house during the four-year tenure.
It further stated that 73 MPs absented themselves without permission, an action said to be in clear violation of Article 97 (1) of the Constitution. Throwing more light on the report, the Content Manager of Odekro, Mr Lolan Sagoe-Moses, explained that data for the report was collected from the website of Parliament House and the Parliamentary Services.
He said the methodology for the assessment of Parliament was hinged on the key functions of MPs, including executive oversight, representative and law-making functions.
“For the MPs, we also took into consideration their attendance to the House, contributions to statements and debates on the floor of Parliament, as well as the engagement with local constituents,” he said.
Mr Sagoe-Moses explained that one of the key findings of the report was the low engagement of the legislature with civil society organisations (CSOs) on sector-specific issues.
According to him, it was observed during the study that out of about 1,500 meetings held by 21 committees, CSOs were involved in only 55 of them, representing 3.7 per cent of the total number.
He said the way forward was for Parliament to create a mechanism to engage CSOs on key technical issues that were sector-specific, adding that it was through such engagements that the public would benefit from the work of the House.
“The fact is that when CSOs are properly engaged by Parliament, it will facilitate the approval of certain bills, especially those that are sensitive and of great public concern,” he said.
Mr Sagoe-Moses said it was important for Parliament to review its standing orders to make room for more MPs to have the opportunity to make contributions on the floor of the House.
“We realised that MPs who had positions tended to have the opportunity to speak more than those who did not, because of the order of precedence contained in the standing order,” he said.
The report further recommended that the constitutional provision that mandated the President to appoint 60 per cent of ministers from Parliament ought to be reviewed. This is because MPs who doubled as ministers recorded low attendance in the House.
He further urged the current Parliament to make use of modern technology to facilitate communication within the House and with the public.
For his part, the Chairman of the Steering Committee of STAR-Ghana, Professor Akilagpa Sawyer, stressed the need for MPs to be empowered to live up to expectation.
The Director of Monitoring and Evaluation and Special Projects at Odekro, Mr Kinna Likimani, said one of the low points of the Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic was the failure to pass the Right to Information (RTI) Bill.
“For Parliament to be truly representative, people ought to have access to information on the operation of the House and the legislative procedure,” he said.