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Tue, Jan

Parliament settles on formula for constituting committees

Parliament will use a 169:106 ratio to constitute its committees

Majority and Minority in Parliament yesterday disagreed over the formula for the composition of membership of committees, parliamentary delegations and other parliamentary groups.

The bone of contention was the breaking down of the number of Members of Parliament (MPs) on both sides into a ratio that was representative of the 169 members on the side of the Majority and the 106 members on the Minority side.

There was a heated debate over whether the House should adopt 61:39 (rounded ratio) term of the members on two sides of the house) as the ratio for selecting MPs into the 16 Select Committees and 11 Standing Committees of the House or just stick with 169:106.

The debate at the Second Sitting of the First Meeting of the First Session of the Seventh Parliament began after the presentation of the report on the formula by the Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.

Arguments

While the Minority argued that there had been a precedent in the Sixth Parliament agreed by both sides which allowed the ratio to be rounded to the nearest whole percentage, the Majority insisted that the last Parliament was different and allowing the convention to hold would amount to inaccuracies which would favour the Minority.

Not even the explanation by the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, that decimal points could not constitute human beings was able to lay the matter to rest.

The Deputy Majority Leader, Ms Adwoa Safo, calmed nerves by explaining that the absolute numbers should be accepted so that when it came to the compositions all the minuses and additions would be factored into it.

Finally, the House adopted the motion for the ratio of 169:106 for the composition.

Selection committee

Earlier, Parliament constituted a 20-member Selection Committee to select members of the various Select and Standing committees.

That committee is chaired by the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Aaron Mike Oquaye, with the Majority Leader, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu; the Minority Leader, Mr Iddrisu; the Deputy Majority Leader, Ms Safo, and the Deputy Minority Leader, Mr James Klutse Avedzi, as some of the members.

Business/Appointment Committees

The Committee on Selection went straight into action by selecting members into the  Business and Appointment committees.

The Appointments Committee is chaired by the First Deputy Speaker, Mr Joseph Osei Owusu, while the Business Committee is chaired by the Majority Leader, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.

Majority Leader

Earlier, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the constitution of the Selection Committee was in line with the standing orders of Parliament.

He said selection onto the various committees would be based on area of competence, regional and gender balance.

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, however, indicated that while some of the MPs  might be utilised in some committees of their area of expertise, others might be put on committees outside their areas of expertise.

The Majority Leader said the selection to the various committees would be based on a formula agreed by leadership of the House. He said the formula would be based on the ratio of the 169 for the Majority and 106 for the Minority.

Minority Leader

When the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, took his turn, he called for urgency in the selection process.

He said the selection process must respect all shades of opinion and take cognisance of a member’s expertise without compromising gender and regional balance.

He said when the 16 select committees and 11 standing committee members were selected, they had to move into urgent business.

Ice-breaking moments

Prior to this, the House used its earlier moments to correct mistakes identified in minutes of its first sitting on January 7, 2017.

It was an icebreaking moment for new members of Parliament some of whom caught the Speaker’s eyes for the floor to correct their wrongly spelt names or constituencies.

That was, however, nearly truncated by the MP for Abuakwa South, Mr Samuel Atta Kyea, who urged the House to use another means to do the corrections because it was time consuming.

The Speaker disagreed and the process continued.

For some of the new MPs, it was an opportunity to ward off parliamentary tension.