Here are highlights of what MPs discussed this week - starting Tuesday, 28th May
Issue 1: Speaker’s Welcome
The Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye has charged committee clerks to endeavour to submit reports timeously on the working trips of parliamentary select committees. He said late submission of reports would attract sanctions to the clerks. Speaker Oquaye was speaking at the opening ceremony which commences the second meeting of the third session of Parliament on Tuesday. He used his message to welcome Members of Parliament (MPs) back from recess and urged them to participate in the parliamentary business including plenary and committee sittings in their numbers and on time in order for Parliament to finish the order of business under consideration within schedule. The Speaker also used the moment to announce that Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Rep. Nancy Pelosi will be visiting the Parliament House of Ghana as a guest of honour in the course of this meeting imploring MPs to avail themselves when that time comes.
Issue 2: Kwabena Adjei Goes Home
A former MP for Biakoye Constituency and former chairman of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Dr. Kwabena Adjei (76), was laid to rest at his hometown in Nkonya Ntsumuru in the Oti Region. In a tribute read on the floor by the Majority Leader and Leader of the House, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (MP, Suame), Dr. Kwabena Adjei served in various leadership capacities beginning with his election to the Jasikan District Council (now Assembly) in 1978; held positions during the PNDC era as deputy secretary (Minister of State) for Industries, Science and Technology from 1987 to 1992; and as Member of Committee of Secretaries (Cabinet) from 1988 to 1992. Kwabena Adjei was a 3-term MP for Biakoye whose tenure spanned a period of 12 years in Parliament. He was praised with ‘assisting’ the nurturing of “Ghana’s infant democracy”. Majority leader added that, Hon. Dr Kwabena Adjei “was actively involved in international cooperation activities related to his work as a parliamentarian and the NDC governments” from 1987 to 2014 during which time he participated in international conferences as Ghana’s accredited delegate to the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in Vienna, Austria; Head of Ghana’s delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Berlin, Germany; and NDC’s representative at the Socialist International Meeting in Dakar, Senegal. The last public office positions he held after his tenure in Parliament were the national chairman of NDC from 2005 to 2013 and board chairman of GETFund. Dr. Kwabena Adjei is a recipient of the COMPANION OF THE ORDER OF THE VOLTA national award “in recognition of his distinguished public service and enormous contribution to the development of constitutional democracy” in Ghana, the statement read. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu in concluding the statement which was presented as a tribute to the late Kwabena Adjei, the former MP and party chairman frequented the hospital many times and on the day after seeing off guests at his residence, he “suddenly” took ill. Dr. Kwabena Adjei died 3 days after marking his 76th birthday.
MPs took turns to eulogise the former MP. Joseph Yieleh Chireh (MP, Wa West) appreciated the State’s gesture of sponsoring the burial service of Kwabena Adjei. Laadi Ayii Ayamba (MP, Pusiga) fondly recollects how he would respond to an affectionate name that his peers called him by. She says they would call him “wayoo wayo” and he would respond “wayo” raising two fingers in the air to gesticulate his acceptance.
The Speaker, Mike Oquaye in wrapping up comments on the statement, spoke about MP welfare where he said the life of MPs who are unlikely to return after finishing their term of office is in penury, according to him, MPs make a lot of financial commitments which harm their wallets. Speaker Oquaye then led the House to observe a moment of silence in memory of the late Dr. Kwabena Adjei. A memorial service was held for the late MP on Friday, May 31 at Parliament House where his mortal remains laid in state for leadership and MPs to pay their last respects.
Issue 3: Bills Passed
The State Interests and Governance Authority Bill, 2019 was passed, again!, on Thursday, May 30 after an earlier decision of the House taken on May 2, 2019, was rescinded to allow for a second consideration stage. The reason which was given by Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (MP, Suame) in moving the motion for rescission of the earlier decision was that the object of the Bill was in conflict with the object of the State Enterprises Commission Act which ought to be amended to include parts where the soon-to-be-created Authority will have the mandate to trade in shares of State Enterprises among others. According to Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, his motion to rescind the earlier decision is within the law in that the Bill was initially passed this year in May which is still within the third session of Parliament and the President of the Republic has not given assent. The Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu (MP, Tamale South) in seconding the motion questioned whether the motion is in consonance with the provisions of Article 106(8) of the Constitution although he was not opposed the motion. The Bill was taken through a second consideration stage where that amendment on clause 3(c) was taken; the Bill went through third reading and was passed on May 30.
Issue 4: First Reading of Bills
Office of Special Prosecutor (Amendment) Bill, 2019; The Bill went through first reading on Tuesday, May 28, 2019, and has been referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report.
Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018; This Bill also was read the first time on Tuesday, May 28, 2019, and is referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and subsequent referendum. The Bill seeks to amend Article 55(3) to allow Political Parties to sponsor any candidate for district assembly and unit committee elections.
Chartered Institute of Marketing Bill, 2019; Went through first reading on Wednesday, May 29th, 2019 and referred to the Committee on Education for consideration and report.
Ghana National Research Fund Bill, 2019; First read on Wednesday, May 29th and referred to the Committee on Education for consideration and report.
Ghana Communication Technology University Bill, 2019; First read on Wednesday, May 29th, 2019 and referred to the Committee on Education for consideration and report.
Issue 5: Bills At Consideration Stage
There is one Bill currently before Parliament at the consideration: The National Road Safety Authority Bill, 2019 is being taken through all the clause-by-clause stages. Consideration of the Bill continues Tuesday, June 4.
Frank Bruce| PARLIAMENT HOUSE, Accra
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