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21.07.2005 General News

59 MPs Double As Ministers, Deputies

Ghanaian Chronicle

The majority chief whip in Parliament, Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, has observed that the current situation of having as many as 59 legislators, doubling as Ministers and Deputy ministers, was making his work as the chief whip of the majority a difficult one.

The seasoned legislator told The Chronicle in an interview at his office that the current situation had resulted in a scenario where the Minority group of the National Democratic Congress, (NDC) turns out to become the majority side of the house on typical days.

"Even though we are in the majority, due to the fact that as many as 59 members of the majority are at the same time ministers and deputy ministers, who, for most of the time, have to be in their offices for their ministerial duties, we normally turn out to be the minority group on the floor of the house and this makes my work as the majority chief whip, very difficult," he explained.

Hon. Mensah-Bonsu, who is the Member of Parliament for the Suame Constituency in the Kumasi Metropolis, said he often found it difficult to get his colleagues who were ministers to come to the house in the event of emergency discussions because, they would always say they were "attending to other equally important duties at their respective ministries."

He appealed to the MPs who were at the same time ministers to acknowledge the monumental impact that the deliberations in the house has on the smooth running of their works as ministers and always try to make time for attending to the business of the house.

The concern of the majority chief whip appears to have given much weight to the current argument, to the effect that, the constitutional provision that says two-thirds of our ministers should be parliamentarians, needed to be reviewed.

Touching on the work of parliamentarians and their responsibility towards the development of their constituencies, the MP pointed out that it was time Ghanaians were well educated on the role of an MP towards community development.

According to him, sometimes their constituents unduly blamed them for the absence of certain community development projects whereas in reality, such projects were far beyond the abilities of the legislators.

"Sometimes, you find some communities blaming their MPs for not constructing roads and other major constructional works. Construction of roads should not be primarily seen as a responsibility of an MP. What an MP can do in relation to road construction and other major projects like that is to lobby for money for such projects to be constructed but hardly can an MP construct a road from his own resources," he explained.

He opined that most of the projects that MPs were asked to do were those that should be directed to the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) even though legislators equally had a major responsibility towards the development of the constituencies.

Hon. Menah-Bonsu called on MMDAs in the country to be up and doing. " Our assemblies should see the need to prioritize their development projects so that when government is unable to meet their budgetary requirements, they can still carry on with the much needed projects for the improvement in the lives of the people in the communities," the legislator explained and called for effective governmental monitoring on the activities of MMDAs to help minimize the incidence of corruption at the local government levels.

"Due the ineffective monitoring of the activities of our Assemblies, we have the situation where DCEs do everything on their own. This allows for the award of certain dubious contracts at the Assemblies by some of the DCEs for their personnel gains and I think it is time to see to the end of this obnoxious practice," the Suame MP advised.