Ghana Politics

Parliament has failed in oversight functions — Prof. Prempeh

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Prof. Henry Kwasi Prempeh, Executive Director, CDD, speaking at the forum in Kumasi. Picture: EMMANUEL BAAH

The Executive Director of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Professor Henry Kwasi Prempeh, has observed that even though Ghana’s Parliament has all the arsenals at its disposal to effectively perform its oversight function on the Executive, it has not lived up to expectation.
He said instead of holding the Executive accountable, it had rather subordinated itself to Executive powers.

Prof. Prempeh stated this when he delivered the keynote address at the maiden Speaker’s Breakfast Forum held in Kumasi yesterday on the theme: “Examining Parliament’s Oversight on Governance of Public Goods and Services: Prospects and Challenges in the 8th Parliament”.

Challenges

According to him, lots of challenges accounted for Parliament’s inability to effectively perform its oversight responsibility over the Executive.

He also cited the appointment of the Speaker, which until recently, always came from the ruling party as one of the challenges as the Speakers had always shielded the Executive from scrutiny and parliamentary investigations.

He also mentioned Parliamentary self-subordination to the Executive as another challenge inhibiting the oversight function of the Legislature.

Conflict of interest

Another issue of concern to Prof. Prempeh was the appointment of Members of Parliaments to serve on boards of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

He said the practice further undermined the interest of MPs of the governing party in being critical of the affairs of SOEs.

“The practice persists because successive Speakers have failed to enforce Article 98(2), which erects a presumption against MPs holding another office of profit or emolument where it will prejudice the work of the MP qua MP or create a conflict of interest”.

Solutions

As part of the proposals to enable Parliament to effectively perform its oversight functions and hold the government accountable, Prof. Prempeh proposed that Article 78 (1) which allowed the President to appoint majority of his ministers from Parliament be reviewed.

He said Parliament should be able to determine the size of the government and stated that that responsibility should not be left in the hands of the Executive alone.

He said the country risked having a constitutional crisis in the event where the President had a minority in Parliament and cited the just-ended elections as an example.

He also proposed that MPs should be stopped from serving on board of SOEs.

In his remarks, the Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, said the rationale of the breakfast forum was to enable the leadership of Parliament to engage with the public on topical issues that come before Parliament.

He said it was to strengthen citizen’s participation in the work of Parliament in order to strengthen the country’s democracy.

“It helps to build knowledge and understanding of how Parliament works,” he said.

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