Crystal Ball Series exposes MPs Absenteeism

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A Civil Society Parliamentary Assessment programme has revealed that the average amount of time spent by Ghanaian MPs on Parliamentary Business has declined while the average number of MP absenteeism has increased as comparatively.

The fifth edition of the Civil Society Parliamentary Assessment programme dubbed the Crystal Ball Series (CBS), under the auspices of Parliamentary News Africa, (PNAfrica) with support from the Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), teased out some issues that require the attention of the Speaker and the Leadership of Parliament.

The programme which attempts to assess the various meetings of Parliament and previews the Parliamentary agenda put out by the House at the beginning of every meeting, ensures Parliamentary openness in furtherance of Parliamentary Democracy in the country.

The Fifth Crystal Ball Series assessed Parliament based on the three main functions of the Legislature. The Representative, Legislative and the Oversight roles of Parliament covering the first quarter of 2018 was put under observation by the Research Department of PNAfrica.

Making the presentation on the assessment of the 38 sitting days that made up the first quarter ending 23rd March 2018, the Executive Director of PNAfrica, Samuel Obeng suggested that the situation could undermine the people’s confidence in Parliament.

“In sharp contrast to the high number of working hours put in during the very first Meeting of this Parliament in year 2017, our MPs committed much less amount of time to Chamber business this year.

“An average of 2 hours and 40 minutes per sitting day only made up for two-third of the amount of time ordinarily prescribed by Order 40(2) of the Standing Orders of Parliament which indicates that sittings ordinarily commence at 10am and conclude at 2pm. The drop from 4 hours and 32 seconds last year as compared to that of this year leaves much to be desired.” He observed.

He also observed that the MPs attendance to duty on the Floor and the Committee level had flactuated considerably, courting concerns of Financial loss to the state.

“Not only did average working hours decline, MPs attendance figures also fell this year as compared to those of the same period last year. Average number of MPs present per sitting day declined from 245 recorded during the same period last year to 218, leaving 57 MPs averagely missing each sitting day.

“This trend is scary and needs to be curbed. Odekro PMO, in their latest Report on the First Session of the Seventh Parliament 2017, calculated that the nation lost GHC 1.481 million to MP absenteeism.”

Another point of concern was that the female MPs were not pulling their weight in the exercise of their Legislative duties. They were failing to use some of the tools available to them on the Floor of the House as MPs, such as statements and questions for them to make the required impact.

“As many as 29 Statements were also read on the Floor by various MPs and 81 questions asked. Sadly, less than 14% of all Parliamentary Questions asked on the Floor were asked by female MPs (i.e. 11 out of 81), as Members of the Minority Caucus dominated in taking advantage of the tool of question time to get answers to challenges faced by their constituents. Only 11 of the Parliamentary Questions (under 14%) were asked by MPs in the Majority Caucus.”

Speaking on behalf of the Civil Society Collation on the passage of the Right to Information Bill, a representative of the CDD, Samson Lardi Ayeneni, called on the Leadership of Parliament to pass a credible RTI law without delay.

The programme was graced by the 1st Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu, the Majority Leader, Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu and some MPs from both sides of the House.

Source: Clement Akoloh ||








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