Politics of Thursday, 27 July 2017
The government has officially withdrawn two newly laid bills namely, Office of Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017 and the Zongo Development Fund Bill, 2017, from parliament.
They were laid in Parliament on July 14 and 15 respectively for consideration.
This was announced by the majority leader, Osei-Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, in the house yesterday.
The bills were laid under certificates of urgency but the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs tasked to determine the urgency of the Special Prosecutor Bill and the joint Committee of Finance and Local Government and Rural Development, which was also charged to determine the urgency of the Zongo Development Fund Bill, recommended that the two bills are not urgent in nature and would therefore need further consultations with stakeholders before they are introduced in Parliament.
The government, in line with those recommendations, has accordingly withdrawn the bills.
The majority leader said the government would be re-laying the bills later after all the necessary consultations had been done.
Haruna Iddrisu, Minority Leader, had argued that the Special Prosecutor Bill did not fulfill the mandatory 14-day constitutional process for its introduction in parliament.
He further stated that since the bill was gazetted on 14th July, it should have been laid on or after 28th July and not the date on which it was laid.
But Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu insisted that the bill was not a regular one but was laid under certificate of urgency.
The Special Prosecutor Bill is to enable the government to create an office that will deal with various corruption issues.
It was one of the major proposals made by President Akufo-Addo as part of his plans to deal with corruption in public offices.
Meanwhile, a former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Martin Amidu, has raised questions over certain aspects of the bill.
According to him, Clause 3 (3) and (4) of the bill, which was not in the original draft designed by stakeholders – including civil society organizations – limits the powers of the Special Prosecutor.
In an article, he said the inclusion of the clause “negates the whole promise that the president made during his campaign and after his assumption of office to fight corruption.”
The clauses indicate that “…specified under paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of subsection (1) unless the commission of the offence is in respect of a vast quantity of assets that (a) constitute a substantial proportion of the resources of the country; (b) threaten the political stability of the country; or (c) threaten the sustainable development of the country.”