The second session of the second meeting of the eighth Parliament of the Fourth Republic began last Tuesday, May 24,2022 with a renewed pledge to strengthen its oversight responsibility.
The Speaker, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin who addressed the House in his opening remarks, said Parliament would initiate steps to strengthen its oversight responsibility to enable it to hold the government and state institutions accountable to the people for the power, trust, resources and hope reposed in them.
The Speaker pledged to lead in that effort by example as the constitutional and legal head of the institution of Parliament.
Parliament and Judiciary Mr Bagbin assured that Parliament would continue to deepen and widen the scope of the already cordial relationship between it and the Judiciary, saying as arms of government, Ghanaians expect nothing from us but to see us work in harmony for the betterment of their lives and the development of the country.
The Speaker also called for a review of the composition and the procedures of the House in view of the recent decisions and directives of the Supreme Court and other courts of competent jurisdiction in a number of cases that affected the way the House conducted its affairs.
Key among them is the voting rights given to the First and Second Deputy Speakers to vote when they presided and that of quorum.
The leadership of the Majority and Minority in Parliament in their comments after the address by the Speaker touched on the issues of assets declaration, the borrowing by the government, the Achimota Forest lands saga and last Tuesday's flooding of parts of Accra.
The Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu called for a second look to be taken at the constitutional provision on assets declaration to include certain institutions and officers who were not mandated to declare their assets.
The Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu also called for a public inquiry into the alleged sale of portions of the Achimota Forest.
President of Mozambique
The President of Mozambique, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, addressed Parliament as part of his visit to Ghana that touched on the issues of terrorism, the need for African countries to trade among themselves and the signing of trade and bilateral cooperation between Ghana and Mozambique.
Presentation of Papers Several papers were also presented to the House for consideration during the sittings for the week beginning from May 24 and ending May 27, 2022.
They included the Annual Budget Performance Report of the various ministries and state institutions for the period January to December, 2021.
Key among them was the Annual Report on the staffing position of the Office of the President for the period January to December 2021.
Lack of funds
The inability of the printing room of Parliament to print copies of the Annual Report on the Staffing Position of the Office of the President for the perusal by members of the House was raised by the Minority Caucus.
The Speaker, in his submission, blamed it on the breakdown of printing machines at Parliament and said attempts to buy new printing machines had been hampered by the releases of funds to Parliament by the Finance Ministry.
Since then government has released GH¢25 million to parliament to support its business.
Committee on Privileges
The Committee of Privileges on Thursday May 26 began the hearing of the case of three Members of Parliament (MPs) for absenting themselves from the business of the House without permission from the Speaker.
The three MPs referred to the committee by the Speaker are MP for Assin Central Kennedy Ohene Adjepong, MP for Ayawaso Central, Henry Quartey and MP for Dome-Kwabenya, Sarah Adwoa Safo.
Mr Quartey was the first to appear before the committee on Thursday, May 26 but the hearing was postponed.
According to the Ranking Member and MP for Cape Coast South, George Kweku Rickets-Hagan, Mr Quartey appeared before the committee in the morning and was asked to return in the afternoon but because of his schedule as the Greater Accra Regional Minister, he could not come back.
The committee, therefore, scheduled the meeting to next week, while the Ranking Member of the committee, Mr Rickets-Hagan stated that the committee would need more time to do its work as the two week period given by the Speaker was not enough.
Sarah Adwoa Safo in an interview on an Accra-based radio station, stated that she had not been served to appear before the Privileges Committee of Parliament for absenting herself for more than 15 sitting days in Parliament.
According to her, while she had no fear of losing her seat, she sought the appropriate permission from the Speaker of Parliament to go beyond 15 days after leaving the country.
She, however, stated that her attempts to be granted an extension were frustrated by some members of the Majority group in Parliament. She said this prompted her to contact the Speaker directly to let him know about her difficulties and request the extension directly.
"There are interests and there are intentions and motives for people doing what they are doing. What I am saying is,I am staying focused and doing what I have to do as a mother."
Ms Safo, however, stated that she had forgiven all MPs who criticised her extended stay from Parliament.