Parliament passes National Service Authority Bill, 2024
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Parliament passes National Service Authority Bill, 2024

Parliament has passed the National Service Authority Bill, 2024.

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The object of the bill is to establish the National Service Authority to mobilise and post persons qualified to undertake national service in areas of national priority for national development.

If assent to by the President, the bill will also inculcate the values of civic responsibility, discipline patriotism, national cohesion and voluntarism in person qualified to undertake national service.

The bill seeks to establish an authority as a body corporate with the requisite legal capacity to develop and implement policies and programmes for national service.

The bill also provides for collaboration between relevant institutions to create a safety net for graduates who successfully complete their mandatory national service.

It will also promote employability, entrepreneurship, technology and innovation among persons qualified to undertake national service. 

The bill was laid in Parliament by the Minister of Education under a certificate of urgency on Friday, June 14, 2024.

It was referred to the Committee on Education for determination of the urgency or otherwise. The committee determined the bill to be of urgent nature and urged the House to pass it under a certificate of urgency.

Vested powers

Soon after the passage of the bill, the Executive Director of the National Service Secretariat, Osei Assibey Antwi, described the passage of the bill as the “greatest day for the NSS.”

“Now, Parliament has given us an autonomy, an authority that is vested with powers in areas where it is going to enhance entrepreneurship.

“With this current status, NSS can work to achieve a lot of internally-generated funds to reduce burden from the central government and we know the President will assent to it to give it the finality,” he said.

Importance of NS to the Nation 

Per a report of the committee, which was presented by its Chairman Kwabena Amankwa Asiamah, ahead of the passage of the bill, national service had become an important activity to national development in Ghana. 

It said the original intent of deploying graduates under the National Service Scheme (NSS) arrangement was to ensure that priority sectors of the national life were never lacking in the requisite human capacity. 

“The committee noted further that the intention of the service is to inculcate the values of civic responsibility, discipline, patriotism, national cohesion and volunteerism. 

“Additionally, the committee noted that modern national service transcends mobilisation and deployment of personnel to a molding phase for the future employment and development of the youths,” it said. 

Challenges with the existing Act 

The committee observed that the scheme was facing challenges under the existing Act, notable among them were lack of corporate status, land encroachment and Strategic partnerships.

For lack of corporate status, he said modern national service had resulted in the introduction of some practices including metal fabrication, construction, farming, borehole drilling, and catering services, et cetera. 

Those require the scheme to acquire lands and enter into contracts and other related transactions. 

“However, because the scheme is not a body corporate, it lacks the requisite capacity to do so. It is therefore imperative to establish the National Service as a body corporate, hence, the introduction of the National Service Authority Bill,” it said. 

Encroachment of land 

The report said the committee was informed that currently, GETFund wanted to sign a borehole drilling contract with the Scheme. 

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Furthermore, it said The Gambia wanted to sign a contract with the Scheme under the World Bank Project for the deployment of national service personnel with training in pedagogy to teach in The Gambia. 

“The Scheme is currently working on a large track of land supposedly acquired in the name of the Scheme. 

“Due to lack of capacity of the Scheme, these enviable opportunities are evading the Scheme. For example, there is difficulty in registering the lands in the name of the Scheme, resulting in the encroachment on some of these lands,” it said. 

Unfortunately, it said the Scheme did not have the requisite capacity to institute legal actions against these encroachers. 

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“Again, some contractual opportunities await the Scheme up to September 2024, hence, the need to consider the Bill under a certificate of urgency since these contracts are time bond,” it said. 

Strategic partnerships 

The committee noted that the Scheme under the existing Act was not a body corporate and such situation did not allow strategic partnership with some interested local and foreign partners. 

“It came to the attention of the committee that there are a number of strategic partners that are urgently waiting to enter into strategic partnership with the Scheme to deliver projects that are tailored towards national development and building the capacity of service personnel. 

“The Scheme indicated that the next deployment for national service is in September and if the Bill is not passed before August, they may miss these opportunities,” it said.

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