Accra, June 10, GNA - As part of preparations to accommodate the 30 new Members of Parliament next year, the Chamber of Parliament would undergo an expansion and some changes in the architectural design from July 16, 2004, when the current Parliament goes on recess.
Mr Jones Kugblenu, Director of Public Affair of the House of Parliament, who disclosed this to the Ghana News Agency, said drawings of the new architectural design for the chamber was ready and a consultant by name Rhaycard, had been brought on-board to award contracts for the various aspects of the project, which was expected to be completed in December.
He said the expansion and restructuring of the chamber would include a shift of the audio visual booth, from its present position at the entrance of the main chamber to the back of the Press Gallery, adding that the Press Gallery itself would be expanded to create more space for correspondents to sit in front of the Audio Visual Booth.
"Already there are about 250 seats for MPs in the chamber, which is more than the required 200 seats, so we do not have a problem receiving the 30 new MPs, but we would provide more seats because some Ministers of States who are not MPs sometimes join the debates on the floor of the House and they need seats whenever they come," he said.
Mr Kugblenu said extra microphones would also be provided for the new entrants, adding that as part of the restructuring project, electronic voting system would also be provided for the next Parliament to enable members have their privacy when it came to voting.
He said a new Director of Research has been employed and charged with the duty of recruiting additional Research Officers to beef up the current meagre 15 Research Officers in Parliament, adding that the Public Affairs Department and the Security Department were all in a move to increase their staff strength to ensure effectiveness.
"We are supposed to have at least one Research Officer to four MPs but the number now is very low and we are supposed to have enough public affairs officers to educate the various youth groups who visit Parliament," he said.
In a related development tighter security measures have been put in place in the House of Parliament, primarily to ensure the safety of MPs, prevent constituents from harassing their MPs unnecessarily and also to ensure controlled movement of visitors in the House. The First Republic Parliament was made of 104 members and it increased to 140 in the Second and Third Republics and then to 200 in the Fourth Republic.
The Electoral Commission, which is empowered by Section 5 and 6 of Article 47 of the Fourth Republican Constitution of the Republic of Ghana to conduct elections and to demarcate constituency boundaries in the country, this year, increased the number of constituencies from 200 to 230.
A Legislative Instrument (LI) to that effect, now enjoins Parliament to take the necessary measures to receive representatives of the 30 new constituencies.
The LI is currently before the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Legislation for consideration, prior to being laid before the House for further consideration and approval.
The 30 new constituencies would include one new constituency in the Upper East Region to make a total of 13 in that Region, while the Upper West Region had two more to take its tally to 10.
Three additional constituencies have been added to that of Northern Region to bring its total to 26 and Brong Ahafo also have three additional ones to take its tally to 24.
Six more constituencies have been added to the 33 in Ashanti to bring its total to 39, while Eastern Region gets two in addition to the existing 26 to take its tally to 28.
The Volta Region now has three new constituencies to bring its total to 22, while Greater Accra Region gets five more to take its tally to 27.
Two new constituencies have been added to existing 17 in the Central Region to bring its total to 19 while the Western Region has 22 with the addition of three new constituencies. June 10, 2004