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09.01.2007 Politics

Government Assurance Committee suggests neutral head

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The Vice chairman of the Government Assurance Committee of Parliament, Mr Sam Quarm, on Monday said the committee could only work effectively if it was chaired by a neutral person or by the minority.

He said the committee is being chaired by a member of the ruling government and this has made it difficult to make objective assessments and analysis as well as react effectively to statements, pledges and promises made by ministers and other government officials.

Mr Quarm said this at the beginning of a week's community outreach programme for the Central and Western regions on quality access to education through FCUBE and access to health through National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) by members of the Government Assurance Committee in parliament at Elmina.

The programme that seven members of the committee representing both the majority and minority are attending is being organized by the Institute for Policy Alternative and Civic Response and sponsored by Canadian Parliamentary Centre.

It is to assess the views of communities on the FCUBE and NHIS.

Mr Quarm called for the re-orientation of the mandate of the committee to enable the public to rather hold the Civil Service responsible for government assurances and not the MP since the Head of Civil Service, directors and managers were implementers of all government statements, promises and pledges.

Mr Joseph Amenowode, Ranking Member for the committee, spoke about the importance of the committee in ensuring good governance and democracy and stressed the need to involve people outside government to assess its programmes and projects to put the government on its toes.

Mr Joe Hackman, the MP for Gomoa West, expressed concern about the inadequate funding of parliamentary committees and said many of the committees existed in name.

He said many of the committees draw very "beautiful programmes" that would enhance democracy and development but due to lack of funds such programmes are abandoned.

"This has resulted in MPs' dependence on donor agencies to undertake programmes and this does not auger well for the nation's development."

Ms Marilyn Aniwa, Coordinator of the Canadian Parliamentary Support Programme, commended parliament for the community outreach initiative and said this would help bring parliament closer to the people.