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General News of Tuesday, 14 November 2017


Special Prosecutor could wait till 2019 if parliament misses 2017 passage

The 2018 budget could determine if the Office of the Special Prosecutor is coming next year or would have to wait till 2019.

The Office may only be able to receive funds if it is catered for in the 2018 budget to be read on Wednesday, November 15.

But to get funding, parliament has to pass the bill that creates the office. The argument is that you can not make budgetary allocations to a department of office that does not legally exist.

The Bill, government's signature legislation for fighting corruption, is going through several amendments in Parliament Tuesday.

But hopes that it can be passed before the budget is read Wednesday have fizzled out.

At Tuesday's sitting, Chairman of the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament Ben Abdallah told Joy News' Joseph Opoku Gakpo, the load of work is too much to be ready for a vote in Parliament.

"We have gone as fast as we can but we haven't finished," he said and praised the leadership of parliament for their devotion to the Bill's passage.

The legislative process in parliament can be classified in four stages: first reading, second reading, consideration stage, and third reading.

The Bill has reached the third of four stages - consideration where the Speaker states each clause of the bill and members note their questions and concerns. Finally, changes or amendments are voted upon.

"We are now on clause 72 out of 79 clauses. we are left with about seven clauses", he said and added, the Bolgatanga East NDC MP and former Deputy Attorney-General Dominic Ayine has contributed the most amendments.

"And I am hoping and believing that we should be able to finish with the consideration stage today", the committee.

Chairman of the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament has said the law has a better chance of being passed next week.

"Very soon this bill that everybody is expecting will be passed into law. We are almost at the end of the road," he said.

There is pressure on the government to fulfil the promise to create the office sooner than later. The President whipped up expectations last year after he said he would create the office to deal with political corruption.

The office is his firewall argument against the political excuse that prosecutions by the Attorney-General are usually witch-hunting of political opponents.

But 11 months into the NPP government, there is no Special Prosecutor in sight. There have also been no prosecutions after big rhetoric on prosecuting former government officials alleged to be corrupt.

There are reports, the government may use the existing prosecutorial route to start its corruption fight to appease sections of the public and the party showing signs of disappointment over the delayed prosecution blitz.