General News of Saturday, 7 October 2017
The Speaker of Parliament, Aaron Mike Oquaye, has charged parliamentarians to make Ghana proud by attaching a strong sense of urgency and responsibility to their duties.
The Speaker said this when he welcomed Members of Parliament, to the commencement of sitting of the third meeting of the first session of the seventh parliament of the fourth republic.
“Honourable members, this Meeting being the last of the First Session promises to be a busy one. Aside the laws expected to be enacted, the House will also consider the national budget and the related draft estimates of ministries, departments and agencies.
As representatives of the people of Ghana, you are the ones charged with the responsibility to work and see through the well-being of the people,” he said.
As part of efforts to ensure smooth deliberations in the House, Prof Oquaye appealed to ministers who had been scheduled to appear before the House to answer questions or do business in the House to be mindful of their obligations and adhere to them.
He drew the MPs attention to the difficulties Parliament encounters during budget sessions.
“This challenge affects effective consideration of the budget at the Committee level and also pile huge pressure at plenary.
It is my hope that the Ministry of Finance will ensure timely certification or approval of the draft budget estimates of all MDAs and submit same to the House this Meeting,” Prof Oquaye noted.
The Speaker reminded Committees of the House to make their reports on all outstanding referrals ready for submission as the House will not accept any excuses.
He commended the Public Accounts Committee for sitting during the recess to consider reports from the Auditor-General.
The speaker also acknowledged the efforts of the Committee on Health for paying working visits to inspect the state of health facilities and working conditions of health personnel in the Northern, Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo regions.
As part of activities to ensure that MPs work better, the Speaker shared some highlights of a report by the Institute of Economic Affairs in which a research was carried between November and December 2015.
Amongst the key issues in the report raised by Prof Oquaye was the perception by 33.8% of those interviewed by the Institute that the performances of MPs were poor.
He said the report also suggested that ex-gratia payments to MPs continue to be a controversial issue.
The Speaker was however of the view that, even though, it was worth pointing out that respondents were not totally against its payment, as opinion was split between 45.9% against and 61.4% indicating that the amount paid MPs as ex-gratia was excessive.
The speaker said the report indicated that Ghanaians had misconstrued the primary role of MPs.
“Honourable members, some of these views could have been exaggerated, misrepresented. But they tell us that we should work hard to bridge the gap between the MPs and the people they represent,” the speaker said.