Parliament poised to pass pending bills - Speaker assures
Parliament will work conscientiously to pass all outstanding bills, treaties and agreements during its second meeting.
The Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin, who gave the assurance yesterday when he opened the Second Meeting of the First Session of the Eighth Parliament, said apart from seeing to the early passage of the New Standing Orders of Parliament, the House was expected to consider and pass into law a number of important bills.
The bills include the Petroleum Management Amendment Bill, 2021; the Supplementary Appropriation Bill, 2020; the Exemptions Bill, 2021; the Ghana Standards Authority Bill, the Consumer Protection Bill, the Advertising Council Bill and a number of private members’ bills.
Mr Bagbin said the House was also waiting for the presentation of what he described as ‘the all-important’ Affirmative Action Bill.
“We anxiously await the presentation of the all-important Affirmative Action Bill, and the latest information has it that the bill is before the Cabinet,” he said.
The Affirmative Action Bill, when passed into law, will ensure that a critical number of women are in key positions in governance and public life and in decision-making spaces.
This is expected to improve the lives of women generally and also lead to consequential changes in existing laws and policies to improve the lives of women.
In view of that, the Speaker urged the members to psyche themselves up, as the meeting promised to be a very busy one.
“Like medical practitioners, there is no rest for a Member of Parliament. This meeting promises to be very busy and I can only urge members to psyche themselves up and prepare for the hard work and long sitting hours,” he stated.
African Union Day
Mr Bagbin also charged the House to reflect on the theme for this year’s African Union (AU) Day, which was: “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for building the Africa we want”.
Explaining, he said the theme was meant to focus the celebration on how Africa could leverage the infinite resources of creative arts and culture and the proud heritage to drive development for the continent and its people.
He reminded members never to lose sight of the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on most countries in Europe and Asia, with India being the latest worst hit country, and religiously adhere to the safety protocols on the disease.
New standing orders
On the proposed amendments to the Standing Orders, the Speaker stated that the Standing Orders Committee met during the recess and decided on concluding its work for presentation to the House, in accordance with the provisions of Act 11 (7) of the 1992 Constitution and orders 77 and 166 of the Standing Orders of the House.
He said the committee took notice of the informal practice and process of pre-laying constitutional and statutory instruments before the Subsidiary Legislation Committee and had agreed to follow the process before presenting the draft standing orders to the House.
Communique from Presidency
Mr Bagbin noted that the House received various communiques from the Presidency on the President’s recent travels, in line with the Constitution.
He also announced that the President had officially informed the House of his nominations for minister of state and deputy ministerial positions.
Besides, he said, the Presidency had, in a letter, notified the House that it had accepted the resignation of the Special Prosecutor, Mr Martin Amidu, and had, therefore, accepted the nomination of Mr Kissi Adjabeng by the Attorney-General as the new Special Prosecutor.
Holding Executive accountable
The Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, welcoming members, said they had come back refreshed to exercise their mandate as law makers of the country and endeavour to hold the Executive accountable to the letter and spirit of the Constitution, within the framework of the separation of powers and the checks and balances allowed in the Constitution.
He said following virtual meetings with the Chairman of the Appointments Committee of Parliament, who is currently outside the country, it had been agreed that the vetting of deputy ministerial nominees would start from June 2.
Threat to peace
Mr Iddrisu said during the recess, there were some threats to the peace of the country, emanating from some sections of religious leaders.
He, therefore, appealed to all religious leaders to avoid acts that would jeopardise the standing of the country as an oasis of peace noted and respected for peaceful co-existence and religious tolerance.
The Minority Leader also expressed concern about “the slow take-off of the second term of the President”.
“Many boards are still not constituted, yet the success or failure of many of our state institutions hinges on the performance of these boards. Also, there are still no district chief executives and so we urge the President to move fast to fill these positions,” he added.
Mr iddrisu reiterated the commitment of the Minority to build consensus and not be an obstruction to government business.
Nonetheless, he said, the Minority would raise questions when necessary.
Ministers in Parliament
The Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, on his part, pointed out that while the House was on recess, there were some issues which required the relevant ministers to appear before the House to clarify.
He said key among the issues were the Executive action to halt illegal mining operations, the arrest of some journalists and recent interruptions in power supply.
“We will require the relevant ministers to come to Parliament to speak to the issues, so that we bring clarity to bear on these matters,” he said.
The Majority Leader also urged all members of the House to take the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to ensure their safety.