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Opinions of Monday, 3 July 2017


Statesman opinion: Parliament must keep a credible image

Parliament of Ghana Parliament of Ghana

Many individuals and groups continue to express worry about what appears to be happenings that are gradually chipping away the credibility of the nation’s Parliament.

This is, thus, giving the electorate some grounds to lose confidence in their elected representatives, who must represent their interest in all matters brought before them for consideration in the august House at all times.   The latest of these happenings is the payment of some GHC100, 000.00 to the Finance Committee of the previous Parliament prior to the consideration of the amendment of the National Lottery Act, 2016(Act 722).

Then Chairman of the Committee, James Klutse Avedzi, has admitted to the receipt of the money from officials of the NLA.

While Mr James Klutse has said the money he received was a payment for per diem for members of his committee, officials of the NLA have also said it was meant to cater for the accommodation of the committee members.

Some people see the whole transaction as a complete wrongdoing on the part of both the officials of the NLA and members of the Finance Committee of Parliament.

They insist demanding the money by the MPs would amount to extortion while the payment from the officials of NLA would amount to bribery, so long as the MPs were doing what they had been paid by the country to do.

Some even believe this is a case the Police Service and other investigative bodies, as well as the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice must be interested in because it could warrant prosecution.

Others also think there is nothing wrong with this usual Ghanaian practice of ‘thanking’ people after rendering a service for which they are paid by the state, and so the payment of the money to the MPs was not a ‘big deal’.

Well, the position of the Daily Statesman is that no matter where one stands in his matter, the most critical thing is that the image of Parliament is at stake. And it is in this regard that we stand with those who are calling for independent investigation into the circumstances under which the money was paid.

If we will be sincere as a people, no one can deny the fact that this may not be the first time money has been paid to our MPs under such circumstances.

An independent committee probing this matter should therefore be able to tell the nation if it is right to continue the payment of per diem to our MPs when they are taken out of Parliament to consider bills or carry out any other activities for which they were elected and paid as representatives of the people.

Parliament must be concerned about keeping its credibility because of the critical place it occupies in the scheme of affairs of the nation’s democracy and governance.

We, therefore, urge our MPs, led by the parliamentary leadership, to do a soul-searching to enable them find out what can be done to ensure that they do not lose their credibility and respect from the people who sent them to the august House to represent their interest and champion the cause of the country.