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General News | Feb 2, 2005

Parliament has to function to reinforce democracy -Speaker

GNA

Accra, Feb 02, GNA - Mr Ebenezer Sekyi-Hughes, the Speaker of Parliament, on Wednesday said Parliament had a task to function effectively to reinforce democracy and make public policies effective.

"If the voices of those most affected by government policies are not heard in the policymaking process, those policies will not be as successful as they could be," the Speaker said at the opening a three-day orientation seminar for Members of Parliament at GIMPA, near Achimota.

Mr Huges said without effective mechanisms of representations, Parliament could not be democratic and was not likely to act in the interest of society as a whole.

He said when Parliament failed in truly representing the interests of the people it would become ineffective and society would suffer for it.

Mr Hughes described Parliament as the people's branch of government, "the institution where citizens' interests and preferences are expressed and transformed into policy and the point at which, at least potentially, people most closely engage their national government."

"Parliament fulfils a number of important functions in a democracy; it represents people and groups, reflecting and bringing their needs, aspirations, problems, concerns and priorities to the policy-making and policy-amending process."

The Speaker said the representation function of the Legislature was fundamental because it shaped the democratic character of the other two functions of government.

"Notwithstanding the history of interruptions in Parliamentary democracy brought about by coups d'=E9tats and military rule, our nascent Fourth Republican Parliament has so far managed its development in a pragmatic way."

The Speaker said the seminar was designed to introduce new MPs to their various roles and expose them to strategies for becoming effective legislators.

For continuing members, he said, it would serve to clarify complex issues on procedures connected to their work.

It is expected that at the end of the programme, MPs would be able to display a sense of confidence and understanding of the role of Parliament in governance and demonstrate competence in the conduct of Parliamentary business.

Mr Joerge Bergstermann, Resident Representative of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), said the vetting of Ministerial nominees in Ghana showed the strength and independence of Parliament. The seminar was jointly organised by FES, Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) and the Parliamentary Service Board. 02 Feb 05

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