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General News of Saturday, 6 July 2019


New chamber: MPs too quick about comfort - Joyce Mogtari

Former President John Dramani Mahama’s spokesperson, Joyce Bawa Mogtari, has described a decision by the Parliamentary Service Board to construct a new 450-seater chamber for the House as a misplaced priority.

The news of the new chamber has been met with public outrage and protests captured under the social media campaign #DropThatChamber, which led to the arrest three of the protesters in Parliament on Friday.

Major concerns from the public and some Members of Parliament, from both sides of the House, have been whether the chamber is a priority. Some are also concerned about the estimated $200 million involved.

Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu had justified the decision with the reason that the House is congested, making it difficult for some MPs to be able to catch the Speaker’s eye.

He, however, said during a press conference that the project was still at its preparatory stage and that Members of Parliament have not been briefed on it yet.

But Joyce Bawa Mogtari, a former deputy minister for transport, contributing to the discussion on The Key Points on Saturday, observed that there are more pressing issues, especially in the health sector that need attention than wanting to build a new chamber.

According to her, the conduct of Parliament may be borne out of a quick desire to satisfy the comfort of its members.

She explains that until the completion of the Job 600 Office Complex under the John Mahama administration, some MPs did not have offices and others also shared offices.

She, thus, finds it surprising how they are now pushing to have a new chamber soon after the completion of the Office Complex.

“Take it back, these are people who did not even have offices any way…you know sometimes I think we are in a bit of a hurry to worry about our comfort and when you look at the reasons as ascribed to by the majority, I was taken aback,” she said.

Mrs Bawa Mogtari said what has caused disaffection in the public and within Parliament itself largely has to do with “lack of communication” on the part of the leadership of the House.

She indicated that she first heard about the project from the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who according to her, was not abreast with the issue himself.

“And I must confess that the very first time I heard about these matters was when I heard the Majority Leader speak to the subject. It appeared [he was] not certain about the figures, but he gave a figure; between 150 and 200 [million Cedis],” she noted.

Recounting the events leading to the news of the new chamber, MP for Akwapim South Constituency OB Amoah, reiterated that it was something that emanated from the Parliamentary Service Board.

He added MPs were not briefed on the matter until they called for a meeting with the Majority Leader, who told them it was still at preparatory stages.