Parliament reconvenes today to continue with the business of the House after a break for the Christmas and New Year festivities.
Top on the agenda of the House is the passage of the Electronic Levy (E-Levy), which was deferred before the House adjourned sine die on December 21, last year.
The adjournment followed a heated debate on whether or not the E-Levy Bill should be considered under a certificate of urgency, which ended abruptly with the First Deputy Speaker, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, in the chair.
A day earlier, there had been an abrupt suspension of sitting by the Second Deputy Speaker, Mr Andrews Asiamah, after a fight had broken out during the voting on the E-Levy.
During the break, the Ministry of Finance said it carried out consultations on the E-Levy.
The mass sensitisation is currently underway.
While the Majority Caucus held a meeting at Rock City in Kwahu, the Minority also met at the Aqua Safari Resort in Ada to strategise on how to approach the business of the House when siting resumes today.
Anti LGBTQI Bill
This session of Parliament is also expected to continue with the public sittings on the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, which generated a lot of debate in the country last year.
The bill, which seeks to prohibit and criminalise the practice and advocacy of homosexuality in the country, is currently before Parliament’s Legal Committee.
Due to the interest it generated from the public, Parliament decided that the sittings of the committee be made public.
Before Parliament went on recess, the committee was still reviewing the numerous statements and papers it had received from some sections of the Ghanaian public, and this is expected to continue when Parliament resumes today.
The bill seeks to further strengthen legal jurisprudence and existing legislation on unnatural carnal knowledge to reflect the current state of affairs.
The sponsors of the bill from the Minority include Mr Samuel Nartey George (Ningo-Prampram), Mr Emmanuel Bedzrah (Ho West), Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (North Tongu) and Mrs Adwoa Ntoso (Krachi West).
From the Majority side, the sponsors include Mr Andy Appiah Kubi (Asante Akim North), Mr John Ntim Fordjour (Assin South), Mr Kwaku Asante-Boateng (Asante Akim South) and Mrs Francisca Oteng (Kwabre West).
Criminal and Other Offences Bill
Also key on the agenda of this session of Parliament will be the consideration of the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which, among other things, seeks to overhaul Ghana’s criminal justice system by allowing persons accused of certain offences not to face jail term.
The bill, when passed into law, is expected to reduce the backlog of criminal cases in court by allowing accused persons to admit their guilt and enter into some form of arrangement with the prosecution, without necessarily standing trial or going to jail.
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, laid the bill before Parliament on Friday, December 17, 2021, after which it was accordingly referred by the Speaker of Parliament to the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament for consideration.
Elements of the bill include the right of an accused person to enter into plea bargaining with the prosecutor before judgment by the court, the format of the negotiations and the entity authorised to conduct plea bargaining with an accused person, which is the A-G or an attorney from the A-G’s office authorised by the A-G.
Other aspects are the benefits of plea bargaining for an accused person, what the agreement should entail and the option for either party (the prosecution and the accused) to withdraw from plea negotiations.
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