First Deputy Speaker of Parliament Joseph Osei-Owusu, welcoming Members of Parliament members (MPs) back from the Christmas and New Year recess, on Tuesday, urged them to make themselves available to the business of the House in the chamber.
He wondered why more than 200 members of the 275-member Legislature would register their names as being present for the business of the House, and would only be seen at Committee sittings and not present at businesses involving the entire House in the parliamentary chamber.
Mr Osei-Owusu also advised the legislators to ensure and maintain a balance between the work of the House and their representative roles in the constituencies.
The sitting, the first of the First Meeting of the Second Session of the Seventh Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana, would last till March 22, 2018. The recess would enable Ghana to participate in the World Assembly of Parliamentarians, which starts on March 23, 2018, and for which the Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament and the Leadership have been invited to make inputs.
The House regretted the lack of quorum, in some earlier sittings, which cast a slur on its image; to which the First Deputy Speaker alerted the members of the House to be reminded that proceedings at the plenary were being telecast live by some media houses.
Mr Osei-Owusu further entreated the Whips on both Sides of the House to ensure that most of their members were in the chamber for the business of the House.
The House, since it went on recess, had been called twice for emergency meetings- the first being Friday, January 5, 2018, when the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mubarak Muntaka, moved that the House constitutes a committee to probe alleged levies and collections by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, to allow expatriate business leaders to supposedly sit close to President Akufo Addo at last December’s Ghana’s Expatriate Business Awards.
The second emergency meeting was on January 21, 2018, for the swearing in of the Speaker as Acting President of Ghana; as both President Akufo-Addo and Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia were out of the country.
On the alleged levies and collections by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Speaker constituted a five-member Ameyaw Committee to probe the matter, nicknamed Cash for Seat Committee, and was given up to January 24, 2018 to submit a report to the plenary, but witnesses at the probe so far had denied that the president being referred to was President Akufo Addo, but rather Ashim Morton, the President of the Millennium Excellence Foundation.
The House was informed by the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei- Mensa-Bonsu of an extension of the January 24, 2018 deadline, to January 31, 2018, for the Committee to submit its report to the plenary.
The MP for Suhum, Fred Opare Ansah, was at a loss as to why the swearing in of the Speaker was captured on the Votes and Proceedings, as having taken place in the First Session of the Seventh Parliament, since constitutionally it ended on January 6, 2018.
After much deliberation, Mr Osei-Owusu ruled that it should be captured as Special Meeting in the Second Session of the Second Parliament of the Fourth Republic Ghana.
The Majority Leader proposed a week-long celebration for the “enviable achievement” of 25 years of continuous practice of democracy,” in the first week of March this year.
The Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu, in a contribution to the Business Statement, called on Parliament to summon Mr Ambrose Dery, the Minister of the Interior to answer questions on the recent cell break at Kwabenya, in Accra, leading to the death of a policeman.
The Minority Leader, who is also the MP for Tamale South, said the Police Command, led by the Inspector General Commander (IGP), were at that moment in a meeting with the Interior and Defence Committee of Parliament over that issue and other matters generally related to security in the country.
Mr Iddrisu asked Government to provide clear indications on whether or not it would extend the stay in Ghana of the two ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees in Ghana. President Akufo-Addo had indicated at last week’s Media Encounter that the two former Gitmo detainees would know their fate when the House reconvenes.
It is expected that during the session, the President would deliver in the House, the State of the Nation address. The Appointments Committee is also expected to vet Mr Martin Amidu, the President’s nominee for the Office of Special Prosecutor.
During this week, Mr Kwame Governs Agbodza, MP for Adaklu, would ask the Minister of Railways Development, what steps were being taken to ensure safety on the country’s rail network.