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Improve engagement with Speaker, Minority -Chief of Staff appeals to Majority caucus

BY: Pacome Emmanuel Damalie
Madam Frema Akosua Osei-Opare (inset) addressing members of the Majority caucus and ministers of state present at the retreat
Madam Frema Akosua Osei-Opare (inset) addressing members of the Majority caucus and ministers of state present at the retreat

The Chief of Staff at the Presidency, Madam Frema Akosua Osei-Opare, has appealed to members of the Majority caucus in Parliament to improve on the quality of engagement with the Speaker of Parliament and the Minority in conducting parliamentary business.

She shared resentment over recent development on the floor of Parliament resulting in fisticuffs between the Majority and the Minority, indicating that effective engagement among leadership of Parliament would be key to a successful parliamentary session.

"Effective engagement of leadership of Parliament remain key to a successful parliamentary session. I, therefore, appeal that together with the Speaker and the Minority leadership in Parliament, you should improve the quality of engagement. This eighth Parliament is unique in its own rights and calls for good consultation, teamwork and balanced leadership coupled with support of the Speaker in order to harness all capabilities and potentials at your disposal”.

“ A large segment of the Ghanaian populace have shown signs of disappointment and disagreement in connection with the continuous scuffle on the floor of the House; so there is the need to find common ground for such concerns without any show of fisticuffs," she said.

The Chief of Staff was speaking as the Guest Speaker at the opening of a two-day Majority caucus retreat held last Saturday at Kwahu-Nkwatia in the Eastern Region to assess and review the work of the government and build capacity of the caucus and ministers of state ahead of the resumption of the Parliamentary session on January 25 this year.

Madam Osei-Opare pledged her support to the Majority caucus to facilitate a politically healthy Parliament which would be the beacon in the sub-Saharan region of Africa, adding that the recent "brouhaha since the introduction of the E-levy bill should give way to sober debate", adding that most Ghanaians embrace the idea of generating revenue internally; hence, the need to steer the tide away from continuous borrowing that had plagued governments of the Fourth Republic.

She indicated that the legislature was the pivot that directed government business and policy to the centre stage for Ghanaians; "it is therefore obligatory that Parliament and all stakeholders within make conscious and self-willing choice to establish a trusted and authentic interface to produce, interpret and echo executive policies.

She commended the Majority for a good job done in making sure government policies were passed while also commending the Minority for their support and cooperation. However, she called for more maturity, dialogue, cooperation and tolerance in this year's Parliamentary sessions.

Build consensus

The National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Freddie Blay, in his remarks urged the Majority caucus to build consensus with the Minority and be seen as less aggressive and confrontational, especially when they should shoulder a greater responsibility for pursuing peace and ultimately the unity and development of the nation.

On the recent chaos in Parliament, he said it did not serve the interest of government, as it made Ghanaians more resentful to government policies and programmes and urged them to be nice with members of the Minority to make sure government business was executed.

"Be nice with members of the Minority. Be friendly, humbly but firmly plead with them to come along just to make you get what your government wants. Of course, we must note that we have an opposition desperately scheming their way back to power; but we should be in a position to ensure we appear less combative and more understanding. So that, our posture does not smack of divisions," he said.

The NPP Chairman added that a hung Parliament had never been in the interest of the government in power; therefore, members of the Majority caucus as well as those who would be contesting internal party elections should conduct themselves well in order not to bring cracks within the party but make it more attractive to external people.

E-Levy and public purse

The Deputy Majority Leader, Mr Alex Kwamena Afenyo-Markin, reiterated government's position that the E-levy was a necessary part of the financial solution that the country needed. However, he urged members of the caucus to address legitimate concerns raised by Ghanaians.

"I do not doubt that the E-levy is a necessary part of the financial solution that we need. Out of the unfounded claims against the proposed E-levy, there are nonetheless some legitimate concerns that we must address. I believe the proposed rate and concerns about waste in our public finance system are examples," he said.

Meanwhile, the Majority Leader of Parliament, who chaired the occasion, also indicated in his introductory remarks that the government had surmounted series of hurdles on the proposed E-levy awaiting its legislative backing.

Budget

"In adoption of the motion to approve the budget, thus the economic policy and budget statement of government which contains E-levy as a policy, we have approved of that. The receivables from the E-levy has been factored into the various documents that we have approved for all the sectors; that's the second stage that we did. Thirdly, when we encapsulated everything into the appropriation bill, and passed the appropriation bill, unanimously it means the E-levy has been approved. What is outstanding is to back the E-levy with legislation," he said.

For his part, the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joseph Osei Owusu, urged the Majority caucus to find a way of maximising its one difference advantage in Parliament.