At no point was Speaker's residence almost sold to private sector - Lands Commission reacts [VIDEO]
The Lands Commission has reacted to the Speaker of Parliament's allegation that his official residence at Cantonments in Accra was "almost sold to the private sector."
The Speaker, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin had alleged, "many of you don’t know that even the residence of the Speaker was almost sold to private sector. Actually it was given out, it is when they went to register that Land’s Commission identified that, that is the residence of the Speaker. Luckily I was inside so it was safe,” he said.
"The Commission wishes to state emphatically, that at no point in time was the said property sold to a private developer by the Lands Commission," the acting Executive Secretary of the Lands Commission, Benjamin Arthur stated in a press statement dated November 20, 2023, signed and issued on Monday evening in reaction to the Speaker's allegation.
Speaker's residence was almost sold to private sector - Bagbin
The Speaker, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin had made the allegation during the "Speaker's breakfast forum," reports Graphic Online's Parliamentary correspondent, Daniel Kenu.
But in a reaction, the Lands Commission said contrary to what the Speaker had stated, "the Lands Commission is, therefore, unaware of any purported sale of the Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament’s official residence to a private developer. The Commission wishes to reiterate its commitment to the prudent and efficient management of public lands in the national interest, and promote effective land administration that is anchored on the highest standards of integrity, transparency and candour."
Attached below is a full copy of the Lands Commission's statement
RE: SPEAKER’S RESIDENCE SOLD TO PRIVATE DEVELOPER
The Lands Commission has become aware of reports in a section of the media suggesting that the Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament’s official residence at Cantonments has been sold to a private developer.
The Commission wishes to state emphatically, that at no point in time was the said property sold to a private developer by the Lands Commission.
Records available to the Commission indicates that:
1. The land in question was acquired in 1920 by a Certificate of Title, dated 7th June, 1920 for Government services.
2. Since 2003, the land has always been used as the official residence of the Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament.
3. By an application dated 15th November, 2022, and numbered PS/LS/002/12/22, Parliamentary Service applied for a Certificate of Allocation to regularise their occupation of the land, which measures approximately 1.66 acres.
4. At its sixty-fourth (64th) Regular Meeting held on 22nd December, 2022, the Regional Lands Commission approved the application, after all statutory processes, including planning approval from the La Dadekotopon Municipal Assembly, had been duly concluded.
5. On 14th February, 2023, the Lands Commission made an offer of allocation to Parliamentary Service.
6. Parliamentary Service accepted the offer, and after paying the requisite fees, a Certificate of Allocation, dated 28th April, 2023 was issued to Parliamentary Service.
The Lands Commission is, therefore, unaware of any purported sale of the Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament’s official residence to a private developer. The Commission wishes to reiterate its commitment to the prudent and efficient management of public lands in the national interest, and promote effective land administration that is anchored on the highest standards of integrity, transparency and candour.
Meanwhile, Graphic Online's Parliamentary correspondent, Daniel Kenu reports that the forum, where the Speaker made the allegation was to help consolidate the relationship between Parliament and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and explore new ways of working together for accountable governance.
It also formed part of Parliament's celebration of 30 years of uninterrupted Parliamentary democracy.
"It was themed: "Thirty years of Parliamentary democracy under the fourth republic: Reflections on citizens' engagement and the way forward."
Speaker urges government to invest in infrastructure for Parliament
The Speaker challenged government to invest in infrastructure for Parliament to enhance its work and preserve the gains chalked in Ghana's democracy.
He said unlike the judiciary and the executive arms of government, parliament has been sidelined "and even lost all our properties."
Currently, according to the speaker, parliament is struggling to get it's lands to be able to put up some structures to accommodate parliament.
The speaker said parliament, unlike the judiciary and the executive, was the only institution which did not have offices across the country apart from Accra.
"Parliament is not visible anywhere as an institution that is why we are really keen on building not only constituency offices for Members of Parliament but also see how we can get structures for regional offices.
"The failure as a nation to prioritise this has resulted in MPs operating without offices in their respective constituencies," he told the forum.
The Speaker said the plan to have offices for MPs at their constituencies has not seen the light of day.
"MPs look for their own means of transportation and reach out to their constituents. They organise and fund all activities but we expect them not to be corrupt," he said.
Mr Bagbin who touched on a number of national issues, lamented about limited engagement between MPs and the public.
This, according to him, has created a disconnect between MPs and the public making it's difficult for the latter to appreciate the work of parliament and MPs.
He revealed that as a result while internationally the parliament of Ghana was rated 88 per cent as being effective instrument of keeping government in check, locally the CDD afro barometer gives parliament only 8 per cent .
As a result, he said, the choice of an MP is influenced by some consideration and not competence or care for the people.
This, the Speaker said accounts for the high attrition rates of MPs who get rejected for all wrong reasons at the polls.
The speaker said regular engagement with constituents was an integral part of representatives democracy and must be used as an effective tool for citizens participation in decision making.
"I believe this would foster transparency and accountable governance.
"Regular and structured engagement including regular constituency visits by MPs with citizens help to know how we have performed and what we can do to better our work," the speaker said.
In line with this, the speaker said, parliament has undertaken a number of reforms and restructuring to make it more engaging.
This includes the breakdown of it's public affairs department into three - media relations, public engagement and television.
Also, there is a whole department on Citizens Bureau to better engage the public and CSOs and think tanks.
As a result, the Parliamentary Service Board has approved a new organogram which includes revised Standing Orders to take effect before the House rises on December 22.
Under the new Standing Orders, which takes effect from January 2024, committee sittings will be opened to the public and the media.
Also, the Citizens Bureau is facilitating the development of a manual titled: "Working with parliament of Ghana, a guide to CSOs.
The manual apart from serving as a reference material for CSOs working on parliament will be an important resource for building the capacities of CSOs.
The Bureau has also been working to complete the "Open Parliament Action Plan."
This according to the speaker will be inaugurated before the end of the month and create government partnership caucus in Parliament to ensure that the House exercises stronger oversight over the partnership.
Also in the offing is to establish a human right Committee as a referral point by the IPU and the UN human right Council for the best evolving practice in the submission of annual human rights report.