August 18, 2014

Minority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, has admitted Parliament’s scrutiny of documents that comes before it for approval has not been diligent enough.

Mr Mensah-Bonsu fingered the current arrangement in the House where — with the exception of the Public Accounts and the Subsidiary Legislation committees — all other committees are chaired by the Majority as the key reason for Parliament’s weak scrutiny in the consideration of key reports.

“Elsewhere, where democracy really means something, where Parliament really means something, there is an arrangement to carry the Minority [and the committee systems] on board”, he said.

Citing France as a case in point, Mr Mensah-Bonsu said because a lot of the issues that pass through Parliament have financial implications the chair of the financial committee in the French Parliament is a member of the Minority party.

“Here it is almost an anathema to call for a restructuring of the committee systems in parliament”, he observed.

Ghana’s fourth republican constitution mandates Parliament to give a seal of approval before many of government businesses can be carried through.

The Constitution has also vested the control of all public funds in Parliament by granting it the power and duty to monitor the expenditure of public funds to ensure that the monies it has authorised are used for the purposes for which they are intended.

However, there is widespread criticism regarding the House’s inability to perform optimally.

The Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), a governance think tank, for instance has once attributed Parliament’s poor performance to a hegemonic executive.

In order for Ghana’s Parliament to live up to its constitutional mandate, Mr Osei-Bonsu is also calling for an amendment of the current arrangement that allows the Executive to nominate majority of ministers from the House, saying the practice “imperils Parliament”.

He said until such amendments are made, Parliament will continue to perform poorly.

“It is no wonder that two years ago when African Parliaments came to be measured, our Parliament placed last but one”, he observed.