General News of Saturday, 8 July 2017
Some Members of Parliament (MPs) have expressed grave concern over the continuous bribery allegations made against some of them who are serving on committees of the house.
The recent one being the GH¢150,000 alleged bribe paid to Members of the Finance Committee in the last parliament by the National Lotteries Authority (NLA) to facilitate the passage of the Lotteries Bill.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for North Tongu in the Volta Region, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who raised the matter on the floor of parliament yesterday, asked the leadership to take urgent and concrete steps to investigate the issue and purge the general image of the legislature as an institution.
He said such bribery allegations against individual MPs were becoming too many; and when that happens, all MPs are lumped together as being corrupt.
According to the MP for North Tongu, it was high time the leadership did something about it to ensure that the integrity of the institution is maintained.
The MP for Effutu, Alex Afenyo-Markin, said it’s unfortunate that when parastatals or government institutions come to support the work of committees of parliament or help build capacities of MPs in dealing with specific bills, it is seen as bribes, adding that there is nothing wrong with governmental or non-governmental institutions supporting the work of parliament financially.
He noted that in the judiciary, the World Bank and some other institutions have been supporting the capacity building of judges and staff of the Judicial Service but did not compromise their integrity and the scope of work set out for them to do.
He said MPs may be supported in the discharge of their work but that does not mean it will compromise their work or influence them.
The minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, noted that the image of parliament is very important as well as the role it plays in bringing quality governance to the people.
He therefore said it is important for parliament to purge itself of such allegations and institute measures to ward off such alleged bribery.
Majority leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said that it was important for parliament to put a restriction on all stakeholders at the precincts of parliament, stressing that this will help block out the allegations of corruption.
The speaker, Prof Mike Ocquaye, observed that in view of the gravity of those allegations, he had given the leadership of parliament one week to take a holistic look at the relationship between committees of the house and parastatals or other government institutions
“I trust that in a week’s time, we should have some directive, some common position on which we can act on this serious matter. No one is sleeping over this matter at all. All parliamentary issues must be seriously examined,” the speaker charged.