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28.03.2011 General News

1992 Constitution makes Parliament powerless - Minority leader

By GNA
Osei Kyei Mensah-BonsuOsei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu
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Parliamentarians holding discussions on proposed amendments to the 1992 Constitution, on Saturday argued that there were many provisions in the constitution that reduced parliament to a powerless organ.


The discussion was organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) under the theme: "Giving Voice to the Voiceless in Ghana's Constitution Review."


Participants include Members of Parliament and constitutional experts.


Article 78 (1) of the Constitution empowers the President to appoint from inside or outside Parliament but majority must be appointed from inside the House.


Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Minority Leader, said this arrangement normally depleted Parliament with personnel especially the ruling party's bench and therefore lowering standards of debates.


He said it also polarised Parliament drawing distinction between MP with ministerial appointments and those without ministerial appointments.


He said at the ECOWAS and Pan African parliaments, Ghana's Speaker was disqualified because he or she was not a Member of Parliament, adding MPs who hold ministerial appointments were also disqualified because of their executive positions.


Mr Mensah-Bonsu said the constitution gave the President the power to make requests to the Auditor General to perform particular duties in relation to their functions, but failed to arrogate such powers to Parliament, which was needed to be able to properly exercise oversight responsibilities over the Executive.


He noted that the Public Account Committee, which according to the constitution, must be headed by a member from the opposition, also brought a lot of constraints as backlog of reports is making the NPP superintend over reports of its own regime.


He said under this circumstance the likelihood of being biased towards the report was very high.


Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the Presidential System of Government that Ghana was practicing was a problem since it did not encourage career legislators.


Mr Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh, Member of Committee on Subsidiary Legislation, thanked the IEA for organising the workshop.


During a group discussion, participants agreed that the forty years requirement of the President should be maintained because of the critical nature of the Presidency, which required the President to be psychologically, politically and socially sound.


They proposed that the Attorney General and Minister of Justice position be decoupled.


Again the participants said the President should appoint Ministers both within and without Parliament but the majority should not necessarily come from within.







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