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Regional News of Saturday, 24 October 2015

Source: GNA

Use ICT to promote governance - IT Expert advises

Mr. Kwami Ahiabene, Executive Director of Penplusbytes has admonished Ghanaians especially the youth to take advantage of the sprawling opportunities of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to deepen good governance and parliamentary democracy in Ghana.

Penplusbytes is a non-governmental organisation that seeks to promote citizen participation in democracy through the use of ICT

He said exchange of communication was no longer a barrier and therefore people could use ICT to constantly communicate with their Members of Parliament (MPs), Ministers and other government appointees, and make their concerns known while demanding accountability from them.

Mr. Ahiabene who was speaking at a citizen’s forum, dubbed “dialogue with parliament” in Cape Coast on Thursday said the youth must positively utilize social media for the development of their communities.

The forum which was organized by Penplusbytes with support from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) formed an integral part of the implementation strategy of the “Connecting Citizens to Parliament project” by the Assurances Committee of Parliament.

It was among other things aimed at creating a structured engagement mechanism between citizens and parliament to enhance the former's ability to hold duty bearers accountable through increased interaction between them.

It was also to foster direct collaboration between the Assurances Committee and major stakeholders on its prime business of exercising oversight responsibility of ensuring that promises and assurances made in Parliament were carried out to the latter.

He observed that for democracy to be strong and more sustainable, there was the need for constant interactions between citizens and elected members of parliament and that the advancement in ICT should be a better option to ensure that.

Penplusbytes in connection with the Government Assurances Committee of Parliament has launched an online digital platform via its website to reach out to the various constituencies through social media platforms.

The initiative, he said would help the Committee to undertake its full mandate of monitoring all assurances and promises made by the executive arm of government.

Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah, Chairman of the Committee, said citizen engagement was vital to the survival of the current democratic dispensation and therefore it was imperative for the Government to engage those who elected them.

He said for the Committee to fully exercise its oversight reasonability over the Executive, it was embarking on verification visits across the country to ensure that what the Government promised and assured Ghanaians in the 2014 budget had been fulfilled or in the process of being fulfilled.

He indicated that four ministers, namely Education, Health, Energy and Road and High Ways Ministers have appeared before the Committee since the beginning of the year but the Committee was yet to present its first report to the floor of Parliament for deliberations.

Joe Badu Ansah, Member of Parliament for Kwesimintsim and ranking member of the Committee said the Assurances Committee would continue to work in the interest of the country to expose non-performing ministers and other government appointees.

Members of the Committee also inspected the state of work done at the Kotokuraba market and the Cape Coast stadium, being the two major developmental projects that the Government promised the people of Cape Coast in the 2014 budget.

The forum brought together stakeholders such as Members of Parliament, government officials, ordinary citizens, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and the media who deliberated on how all institutions and individuals could work collectively to work effectively to enhance democracy in Ghana.

Among the issues deliberated on by the stakeholders were the current energy challenges, the education system in the country, corruption and accountability.

Participants were enlightened on the work of the Government Assurances Committee of Parliament, the duties and responsibilities of the Members of Parliaments as well as Metropolitan, Municipal and District, Chief Executives.