The Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has revealed that Parliament wants to cut down the size of committees in the House. The leadership of the House, he said, have observed that almost all the committees including the Standing or Select Committees have about 30 members, which according to him, is too much for a single committee.
The minister, who is also the Majority Leader in Parliament, said most of the time, only seven or less members are active in committee meetings. “Why have a thirty member committee when you know that only seven are going to be active”, he quizzed.
According to the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, the constitution provides for every member to belong to at least one standing committee. He explained that the Standing Committees in the constitution are the committees that are charged with oversight responsibilities. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu also explained the mix-up in their rules of procedure. For instance, he said, standing orders where the committees that have oversight responsibilities are referred to as Select Committees and Standing Committees as those that help them in the internal organization of the House.
“In the new Standing Orders, we want to conform to the constitution, so we are changing the name of the select Committees to conform to what pertains in the constitution and the new select Committees will appropriately assume the name Standing Committees,” he added. “We want to cut down the size and let every member belong to one committee,” he said, noting that some legislators are not in favour of the idea, but “if we indeed want these committees to be effective, then that is the way to go”.
He was addressing the media at the Kofi Annan ICT Center in Accra on Tuesday on the invitation of Parliamentary News Africa to answer questions on the main function of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and his vision for the ministry.
Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu who is also the MP for Suame lamented that these issues of infectiveness are not peculiar to the committees, but the staff of parliament as well. He said there are so many clerks assigned to committees who do not even know what work they are supposed to do and the functions of the committees.
Speaking to the usual practice of a Minority member chairing the Public Accounts Committee, he said the constitution has a reason why the Public Accounts Committee should be chaired by a member whose party does not control the executive. He however said when “you are considering report from your own administration, you should prudently step aside and let the Ranking Member chair the committee to avoid a possible conflict of interest or being bias”.