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Speaker counted, pledges Parliament’s support for 2021 census

Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin has pledged the support of the legislature to 2021 Population and Housing Census (PHS) and has called on all citizens to participate in the national exercise.

The Speaker, who was among the first personalities to be counted in the exercise on Monday morning, said the exercise is necessary for planning, budgeting and coordination of state response to the challenges facing the development of the country.

“The population and housing census is so critical to survival – quality of life – and the development of the country. I therefore call on every body to stand up and be counted,” he said.

Speaker Bagbin said Members of Parliament (MPs) would be deployed to their various constituencies to actively participate, mobilise, educate and sensitise their constituents on the ongoing exercise.

He noted that five post-independent censuses were conducted in the country in 1960, 1970, 1984, 2000 and 2010 with the last two consisting of both a population census and a housing census making the 2021 PHC the third Population and Housing Census to be conducted in the country.


North Tongu MP observes census night with constituents

Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa observed census midnight with his constituents.

According to him his constituents should cooperate with the census officials so that they can have credible data for scientific evidence-base development.

“We wish our patriotic enumerators the very best and it this exercise it should be, Ghana first I got counted”.

“Let us all play our part to make the 2021 population and housing census a success, there can be no concrete development without credible data”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Mahama joins colleagues in La Cote d’ Ivoire on direct election to ECOWAS Parliament

A member of Ghana’s delegation to the fifth Community Parliament, Mahama Ayariga joined colleagues in the La Cote d’lvoire National Assembly to explain the whole concept and the need to have ECOWAS citizens elect lawmakers, then the current practice of appointing lawmakers from the various National Assemblies would be stopped.

The current Speaker of the community parliament, Rt. Hon Sidie Mohammed Tunis has made this one of his top priorities, and the idea is catching up with lawmakers in the ECOWAS Parliament leading to a number of discussions to actualize the idea.

Meanwhile, the ECOWAS Parliament conveyed its condolences to the Parliament of La Cote d’lvoire on the demise of their colleague, Hon Sale Poli who was a Member of the ECOWAS Parliament representing La Cote d’lvoire.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

“My focus on PAC is to ensure institutional correction” — Mpraeso MP

Member of Parliament for Mpraeso, Ansah Davis Opoku has said his focus on the Public Account committee is to ensure that there are corrections systems put in place at various public institutions, within the Ministries, Departments and Government Agencies (MDAs).

According to him it is not his focus to look at which political era that there were systemic failures as would be captured by the Auditor General in his report that would come before the PAC.

“When we have a proper system in place, it is going to deal with issues of corruption and ensure effectiveness, where people are held accountable for their action and inaction”, he said this in an interview as a first timer MP on the committee.

According to him he likes the posture of the Chairman of the PAC, James Klutse Avedzi when he surcharged the Ministry of Works and Housing and Roads and Highways for not appearing before the Committee when it had its first sitting.

In addition, he noted that work of the Committee is to ensure that the public purse is protected and attendance of his colleague to the public hearing indicates that they are a serious committee and determine to exercise their oversight responsibility impose on them by the constitution.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Ahmadiyya Mission delegation calls on Speaker

A delegation from the Ahmadiyya Mission has called on Speaker Bagbin at the Parliament House in Accra.

The delegation, led by its Amir and Overseer, had conversations with the Speaker and some MPs on maintaining peace in the face of religious diversity and growing youth unemployment.


Ex-parliamentary staff calls on Speaker

The Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon Alban. S. K Bagbin has expressed his support to calls for the creation of an institutional memory bank to help enhance the transfer of knowledge in the public service.

He said there is a pressing need for state institutions to create a common platform where present and retired public officials could share knowledge and transfer experiences.

The Speaker was addressing executives of the Ex-Parliamentary Service Staff Association of Ghana (EPSSAG) when they called on him in parliament  on  Friday.

The leadership of EPSSAG called on the Speaker to remind him of a commitment that was made by his predecessor, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye to allocate office accommodation that will serve as a secretariat for the Association.

Chairperson of the Association, Ms. Lillian Bruce-Lyle who spoke on behalf of the group appealed to Speaker Bagbin to assist them to address critical concerns bothering on welfare and health needs.

That, she said, will ease the burden that is mostly associated with old age.

Ms. Bruce-Lyle urged the Speaker to support the association’s effort at creating an income-generating venture that will cushion the work of the association and its members.

The Rt. Hon. Speaker for his part urged the group to ensure its members take advantage of the opportunity offered them to visit the Parliament’s Medical Centre for regular check-ups.

He said the centre can now boast of critical equipment to address some of their health challenges.

He assured them of his willingness to engage with the relevant departments to see to it that an office accommodation is made available to support their work.

He urged them to develop programmes and activities that will bring both retired and serving staff together to share ideas on the need to ensure harmony in their work as parliamentary service staff.

Speaker Bagbin used the occasion to advise serving staff particularly directors to endeavor to soften their hold on what he describes as undefined sources of power as the subordinate staffs they mishandle today may become the directors of tomorrow.


Public Accounts Committee decries loss of state funds due to poor accounting in MDAs

The Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) sat on Friday, June 25, 2021 to consider the Auditor-General’s Reports of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for the year ended 31st December 2017 which were referred to it for consideration.

Ministries of Communication, Lands and Natural Resources, and Works and Housing took turns to answer questions on what was described as poor accounting and weak control systems in these Ministries leading to loss of state funds.

When some institutions under these ministries appeared before the PAC to respond to queries in the Auditor-General’s Report of 2017, it was established that poor financial management and improper record-keeping remained a hurdle to be cleared to ensure the judicious use of public resources.

While some of these institutions failed to ensure best corporate practices to prevent waste, weak accounting systems in others paved the way for some officials to misappropriate funds.

The institutions that appeared before the PAC are the Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT, the National Information Technology Agency (NITA), Department of Urban Roads, and Department of Feeder Roads-Takoradi-in the Western Region.

The rests are Lands Commission-Wa (Upper West Region), Regional Lands Commission (Cape Coast) and the Public Works Department (PWD) Prestige and the Hydrological Services Department.

When the Ministry of Communication took its turn in the hot seat, it came to light that Internally Generated Funds (IGF) amounting to GHS 1,747,658.10 collected in 2016 was not lodged into the Public Funds Account.

It was also noted that the Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT without authorisation disbursed GHS 1,344,171.29 out of the total amount of GHS 1,747,658.10 IGF collected within the period and although the Auditor-General’s Report asked the Centre to recover the misappropriated amount with interest, this has not been complied with.

Additionally, the National Information Technology Agency (NITA) was also cited for withholding an amount of GHS 120,381.07 but failed to remit to Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) thereby denying the state the Amuch-needed revenue while 54 payment vouchers with a total face value of GHS 627,487.05 were not made available for review by the Auditor General.

The PAC therefore directed officials of the Ministry to provide all these 54 vouchers to the Committee by close of work Wednesday June 30, 2021 or face the necessary sanctions.

It was disclosed that Mr. Toxla Joshua, a former Technical Officer of the Lands Commission at Wa in the Upper West Region vacated post on the 13th October 2016 but continued to be paid salary until March 2017 which resulted to unearned salary of GHS 9,022.98.

The Auditor-General Report indicated that even though management advised the bank to pay the accumulated unearned salary back to Government chest, this was not done.

The officials explained that there was an arrangement between the management of the Commission and Mr. Toxla to refund the outstanding unearned salary for onward payment into the Consolidated Fund.

In another vein, the Audit Report revealed that taxes withheld from allowances paid to Committee members and temporary staff amounting to GHS 11,234.38 was not remitted to the Commissioner General of the Ghana revenue Authority (GRA).

The Report, therefore, recommended that management should remit the tax amount of GHS11,234.38 to the Commissioner-General of the GRA but this has not been complied with.

Similarly, according to the Report, examination of records disclosed that Zenith Bank charged fees totalling GHS 5,086.26 in breach of contractual obligation resulting in reduction of the non-taxable income that should have accrued to the state and recommended for a refund into NTR Account at Bank of Ghana which was also not carried out.


Ministry of Works and Housing appears before PAC

The Committee therefore recommended that Mr. Isaac Yeboah Asiamah refund the said amount of GHS 6,317.10 and pay same to the Consolidated Fund failure of which he would be surcharged.

It was noted during the period under review that management failed to stop the salary of Mr Isaac Yeboah Asiamah, a former employee of the Hydrological Services Department when he vacated post resulting to unearned salary totaling GHS 6,317.10 over a five-month period from October 2015 to February 2016.

The Committee also urged management to stop the payment of unearned Salaries to two officers at the PWD Prestige totaling GHS 10,570.00 and ensure its recovery failure of which they would be surcharged.


We decline to take part in approval of 4 nominees because we didn’t vet them —Suhuyini

A member of the Minority on the Appointment Committee of the 8th Parliament, Alhassan Suhuyini said they walked out of the chamber on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 on the approval of four deputy minister-designates because they were not part of their vetting on June 11, 2021.

He said they were planting trees in their various constituency as directed by the Speaker, when the Chairman of the Appointment Committee went ahead with the vetting only with the Majority side of the Committee.

According to hm it would not be fair to debate their approval since they did not participate in their vetting, “voting against them will be unfair”.

“It is the fault of the Chairman of the Appointment Committee and not that of the nominees, Ghanaians expect us to work together and the Majority has to change their approach and make it possible for us to meet each other half way for government business to run smoothly”.

He made these remarks at a briefing with members of the Parliamentary Press Corps just after their said walk-out of the chamber not wanting to be part of the approval of the 8th report of the Committee.

And further pointed out that leadership of his side raised concerns with the Rt. Hon Speaker on the matter and were directed to raise the matter on the floor, but leadership of his side due to very equally important issues were not present at the floor same with the Speaker.

When the issue of quorum was put to him, he responded by tasking the media to investigate as to whether, on the June 11, 2021 those who vetted the deputy ministers designate formed a quorum.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com

Speaker never said Appointment Committee should suspend to plant trees —Atta Akyea

A member of the Majority side on the Appointment Committee of the 8th Parliament Samuel Atta Akyea has set the record straight by pointing out that the Rt. Hon speaker Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin never directed the Appointment Committee to suspend its work on Friday, June 11, 2021 to undertake tree planting as part of ‘Greening Ghana’ project.

According to him statement made by the Speaker was an appeal because the Committee had already made its arrangement to undertake the said activating of vetting deputy ministers designate long ago before the announcement of the speaker.

“Vetting of nominees of the president is very important for the state, you would not want to have a state that does not have deputy ministers, and I could delegate a constituency chairman to represent me at the tree planting exercise, because government business should run”.

He said this at a press briefing in response to an earlier media briefing organized by Member of Parliament for Tamale North Alhassan Suhuyini, giving reasons for their walkout on Wednesday, June 23, 2021.

Again, Parliament is not run by the convivence of MPs, and added that when members of the Committee are aware that there is a duty to perform and the Minority did not come, it was their own bluff and the issues of vetting is fundamental.

Mr. Atta Akyea further noted that all the nominees need to meet what Article 94 of the 1992 Republican Constitution says being eligible to be a Member of Parliament which the nominees have met.

“It’s sad that the Minority elected to disrespect the rules, they did not come and want to shift the goal post, you did not come and you would not sit to approve the nominees, this is not the way to run affairs of parliament”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com