A dramatic year, 2021 has ended and it feels good to welcome all of us into another year, 2022. We are already in the 11th day of the New Year and many of us are putting pieces together to achieve our goals and dreams.
Without any doubt, the past year was challenging; some very traumatic. The experiences in the Legislature, where our honourable Members of Parliament (MPs) used the brawn instead of the brain to settle scores come readily to mind. For others, it had been a challenging one, with the COVID-19 pandemic hanging on our neck creating a lot more panic and financial difficulties for all.
But whatever it bodes, it is a good lesson for us as we travel the journey in the year 2022.
More importantly, we must wish for ourselves good health, success and prosperity in every endeavour but this will require a lot more planning.
But truth be spoken, as the Legislature resumes sitting on January 25, this year, the nation’s attention will be focused on what happens in that House.
One of the key issues that will come up again for consideration is the Electronic Transaction Bill (E-Levy), 2021.
The House failed to pass the E-Levy into an Act at its sitting on December 20, last year, after a fight broke out on the floor of Parliament between some Minority MPs and their colleagues on the Majority side during the consideration stage of the E-Levy.
The House had to adjourn sitting on December 21 last year for cooler heads to prevail following the confusion that broke out during the voting of the E-Levy.
The government in its 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy presented to Parliament announced the introduction of the E-Levy of 1.75 per cent as one of the measures to generate revenue to address the country's infrastructure deficit, especially in the road sector and to create jobs. But it has been vehemently opposed by the Minority in Parliament and other stakeholders.
The Minority argued that the E-Levy Bill when passed into law would impose further hardships on Ghanaians, hence their outright rejection.
However, as Parliament reconvenes, it is the heartbeat of many Ghanaians that business in the House would be conducted with the national interest in mind instead of party lines or with partisan views to help protect and preserve the country's democracy.
Therefore what is expected from both the Minority and the Majority sides of Parliament is to help foster consensus, compromises and reconciliation to reduce tensions that have characterised deliberations in the House in recent past.
Sustenance of democracy
Parliament has a critical role to play to help consolidate the democratic gains and the successes chalked up since the inception of the Fourth Republic and it cannot afford to fail in that direction.
Therefore, the House in performing its functions, especially its legislative role of passing Bills and scrutinising statutory instruments, must do so with the view of protecting and preserving Ghana’s democracy.
Although last year was disappointing, it is expected that Parliament would work this year to repair its battered image and restore the confidence reposed in it as one of the arms of government for the sustenance of the country’s democracy.
To ensure that business is conducted in a healthy manner to produce the results for all and sundry, the ruling party must be ready to make some concessions and also give a listening ear to dissenting views while the opposition must also reciprocate by softening their stands for a win-win situation for the best interest of the country and democracy.
In view of that, MPs would be seen as also playing their representational role effectively and also earn the trust and confidence of their constituents for representing them well in Parliament.
Aside from the E-Levy that would be one of the key issues that would engage the attention of Parliament, there are also other Bills that the House must consider when it reconvenes.
They are the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021, Office of Special Prosecutor (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The Criminal and other Offences (Procedure) (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
New year wish
My new year wish therefore is that we will stop the insults, be civil towards one another and the nation, and have decorous engagement. We must learn to be courteous, showing expressions of appreciation and gratitude.
We must avoid lies and mudslinging for political expediency and stick to facts. We must all aspire to the heights our founding fathers envisioned and not be mediocre in thoughts and actions.
In the year 2022, we must look for opportunities, create more jobs and make life more bearable.
Hard work, perseverance and passion for what we do must be the order of the day. Loyalty and patriotism for mother Ghana must be our portion. We must harp on the good of society and frown on the ills. These are what will make 2022 a much better year we all hope for and dream about.