A citizens’ forum geared towards connecting the grass roots to parliament was organised at Fise, a suburb of Trobu-Amasaman in the Greater Accra Region at the weekend.
Dubbed “Dialogue with Parliament,” the forum, which formed part of a key component of the “Connecting Citizens to Parliament” project offered the opportunity to Trobu Amasaman constituents to engage and interact with their Member of Parliament, Mr Moses Anim.
The forum was organised by Penplusbytes, a civil society group, with support from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and the Committee on Government Assurance in Parliament.
Among those attending the forum were chiefs, opinion leaders, assembly and Unit Committee members, union leaders and representatives of various political parties, who discussed the government’s promises on energy, roads and infrastructure, among other things.
Citizens who participated in the forum called for more interactions to enable them to meet their MPs face-to-face, since it would enable them to express their opinions on legislation and government policies which affect them, share in decision making and thereby assume ownership of solutions.
A teacher from Tantra Hills, Madam Rosemary Ansah-Kuma, used the opportunity to ask the question “How’s the committee able to play its role effectively when it is chaired by a member of the government. Is there no conflict of interest?”
A dressmaker from Pokuase, Arnold Kwamenu, also asked, “Why do MPs make promises during their campaigns when their main task is to make laws and play an oversight role over the government?.”
A third person, a teacher and resident of Fise, Joana Tettey said, “This face-to-face interaction with my MP is laudable and it should be undertaken more often. I want to find out how the committee on Government Assurance is able to sanction and punish ministers who do not deliver on promises they make on the floor of Parliament.”
Trobu-Amasaman MP’s response
Responding to their questions, the MP for the area, who is also a member of the Committee on Government Assurance, said all members of the committee had pledged to wage a campaign to ensure that the government delivered on its promises for the benefit of all taxpayers and the development of the country.
According to the MP, all members of the committee had resolved to play their role effectively, devoid of partisan politics to ensure that the government delivered on its promises.
Mr Anim took the citizens through the work of Parliament, duties of an MP and emphasised the role of the Committee on Government Assurance, which he stated was a Standing Committee of Parliament, created by the Standing Orders to exercise oversight responsibility over the Executive.
According to him, “Order 174 (2) of the Standing Orders of Parliament indicates that, it shall be the duty of the Committee on Government Assurance to pursue all assurances, promises and undertaking given by Ministers from time to time. It shall also be the function of the Committee to report to the House on the extent to which such assurances have been fulfilled. Therefore, the Committee on Government Assurance seeks accountability for the Ghanaian people through their elected representatives.”
The citizens’ forum project provides both online, text messages and face-to-face platforms for citizens to engage Parliament and enable the Committee on Government Assurance to enhance its oversight role in ensuring that assurances and promises made by the government were achieved, leading to an improvement in public service delivery.
The President of Penplusbytes, Kwami Ahiabenu II, stated that the forum was aimed at creating a structured engagement mechanism between citizens and Parliament to enhance their ability to hold duty bearers accountable through increased interaction between them and Parliament.
“This forum is the fourth of its kind undertaken by Penplusbytes this year, and it provides opportunities for a diversity of voices to be heard on issues that matter to people, and fosters a sense of mutuality, a sense of belonging and a sense of empowerment, all of which strengthen our burgeoning democracy.”