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09.12.2005 General News

MPs call for strict financial oversight over Office of Parliament

By GNA
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Accra, Dec. 9, GNA - Members of Parliament (MPs) on Friday called for strict monitoring of the finances of the Office of Parliament saying there were no internal controls to check how monies were spent. They said it was ironical that Parliament had oversight responsibilities over how other institutions and agencies spent their monies while MPs paid little attention to how the Office of Parliament used its resources.

The members were contributing to a debate to approve a sum of 164.8 billion cedis for the services of the Office of Parliament for the 2006 fiscal year.

Alhaji Mubarak Muntaka, NDC-Asawase, took issue over monies spent in purchasing bottled water, which had the logo of Parliament embossed on it, and said it was important to monitor how monies were being spent on some of these items.

Mr Kojo Opare-Hammond, NPP-Adenta, expressed worry that there was no procurement unit attached to the Office of Parliament and took issue over the fact that the carpet at the foyer in Parliament was changed at a high cost although there was no immediate need to do so. He said internal controls over the finances of the Office were weak and added that it was only three months ago that the Office engaged an internal auditor after a number of years.

He said to ensure proper accountability the Public Accounts Committee of the House should be tasked to work closely with the internal auditor to monitor how resources were used.

Other Members touched on the trying conditions under which members worked saying there were no offices, computers and inadequate research assistants and thus making their work very difficult.

The Members said good governance and the growth of the country's democracy depended greatly on a strong Parliament and called for more support.

Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Chief Whip, said about 70 per cent of the work of Parliament depended on the work done by the committee's and it was, therefore, necessary that these committees were well resourced to carry out their duties.

Mr Haruna Iddrisu, NDC-Tamale South, urged the Executive to speed up work on the terms and conditions of service of Members of Parliament. He said it was a constitutional provision and it was, therefore, inconceivable that five years on after assuming power the Executive had still not worked on the issue of the conditions of service. Mr Alban Bagbin, The Minority Leader, said MPs were not interested in contracting loans to purchase vehicles for their official work neither were they interested in the flats given them. He said they needed facilities that would enable them to rent accommodation.

Mr Felix Owusu-Adjapong, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, who moved the motion for the approval for the budgetary allocation, said the report of the Special Budget Committee on the 2006 Budget of the Office of Parliament indicated that there was a shortfall of about 94 billion cedis needed to take care of various activities for next year. "The Committee has considered the budget of the Office of Parliament and noted all the shortfalls, which it believes would impinge on the effectiveness and efficient running of this institution, especially the work of the committees...."

He said the committee also observed that there was the "need for an improvement in the way the Office of Parliament monitors its expenditure and recommends that the necessary mechanisms be instituted to ensure that this is done."

On some investments for next year, Mr Owusu-Adjapong said the committee had noted that the Legislature lacked some facilities and offices and some of these needs would be met with an amount of 26 billion cedis.

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