Ministers of State who double as Members of Parliament, were the worst culprits of absenteeism without permission during the First and Second sittings of the seventh parliament, 2017.
The Ministers, including deputies, absented themselves from at least 15 sittings without the permission of the Speaker of Parliament.
[contextly_sidebar id=”7Y9xZR2pP2J5Ty6pK6vr5h9jtTkzLabK”]This was contained in a report by Odekro, a civil society organization focused on activities of the legislature.
According to the report, the guilty MPs consisted of 18 Ministers and 21 Deputy Ministers.
Some of these MP-Ministers included Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Dan Botwe, Samuel Ata Akyea, Catherine Afeku and Ignatius Baffour Awuah.
On party affiliations, Odekro found that, 28 NDC MPs, representing 28% of the absentees, did not report to the house for at least 15 sittings without a written permission to the Speaker, beyond the limit that Article 97(1)(c) of Constitution allows.
NPP MPs who were guilty of the same offence, were 57 in number, representing 72%.
Odekro, which had issued a caution over the appointment of several ministers from parliament over fears of a weakened legislature, said in the report that, there is the need for stiff punishment against MPs who absent themselves from the House without permission.
It noted that, the failure of the legislative body to punish MPs in the past for the offense, seems to have set a bad precedent which “encouraged impunity among some MPs.”
“There has never been an occasion where MPs in breach of Article 97(1)(c) have been summoned before the Privileges Committee of Parliament to explain their chronic absenteeism without written permission of the Speaker, and asked to vacate their seats upon failure to provide plausible reasons. Perhaps this lack of precedence has encouraged impunity among some MPs.”
It said “the high rate of absenteeism particularly among MPs who double as substantive Ministers of State is a major concern”
Odekro recommended that, “MPs found to have no reasonable excuse to be absent without written permission from
15 sittings and beyond, should be asked to vacate their seats in line with Article 97(1)(c) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.”
By: Jonas Nyabor/citifmonline.com/Ghana