1st Deputy Speaker of Parliament, the Hon. Joseph Osei-Owusu, has lamented whether the provision of offices for MPs has helped the cause business in the Chamber.
According to him, when MPs did not have offices and were compelled to do their work in the cafeteria, attendance was very encouraging but since the offices were provided, members show up to sign the attendance book and head for their offices but do not return to participate in the business of the Chamber.
The situation, he said, is an embarrassment for Parliament and pointed out that members are usually displeased when NGOs working with the House publish names of MPs as having consistently absented themselves from official business.
“Nobody would be happy with such situation but if we go by the records, indeed some MPs breach the Constitution and probably ought not to continue as MPs,” he stated.
He urged members to take the business of the House serious and stressed that besides all the demands from constituencies and committees, MP should go to the Chamber for the day’s business before going out for committee work.
Hon. Osei-Owusu expressed this worry after member for Lambussie Constituency, Hon. Edward Kaale-Ewola Dery, complained bitterly about poor attendance during sittings in the Chamber.
He argued that it is not for nothing that prayers are said at the beginning of every sitting and noted that members should at least be made to be in the Chamber to participate in the prayers before going out to engage in other Parliamentary businesses.
He warned that he would begin to raise questions of quorum before the House could conduct government business.
Minority leader, Hon. Haruna Iddrissu, who also commented on the issue pointed out that Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working with Parliament have had cause to raise concerns about MPs’ absence from the Chamber during proceedings and how that affects the work of the House and how it can affect and undermine public confidence.
He argued that the question of quorum is a requirement of the Standing Orders that must be respected and stressed that MPs have no excuse to be absent without prior approval of the speaker.
The House, he said, may reconsider the 10:00am time for sitting and see whether adjustments could be made to push the time to 12:00pm or 02:00pm as pertains in other jurisdictions and which appears more convenient.
Member for Kumbungu, the Hon. Ras Mubarak, noted that it is not for nothing that in the Constitution and the Standing Orders, the House is required to form quorum to conduct business.
He pointed out that members travelling on official or private assignment are required to fill a form to seek permission.
“It is a requirement and a demand on all MPs that we notify the Speaker and get clearance before absenting ourselves,” he stated.
He cautioned that Ghanaians watch proceedings of Parliament and would judge how serious MPs take business of the House.
“If we treat the business of the House with such attitude, it will reflect in the various offices.”
“If you visit the MDAs people behave the way they wish and do not go to work early. Some even come in and leave without permission thereby affecting productivity.”
“We are here to work and must be in the Chamber to conduct business. If someone however has genuine reason for not being present, there is a way to address,” he stated.
He called on members to respect the provisions of the Standing Orders that require quorum to be formed for the House to conduct business.
By Osumanu Al-Hassanfirstname.lastname@example.org