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14.12.2005 Politics

Speaker has fared well - Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

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Accra, Dec. 14, GNA - Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Majority Chief Whip on Wednesday said he had been impressed with the way the Speaker of Parliament; Mr Ebenezer Sakyi Hughes had conducted the affairs of the House in the First Session of this Parliament. "I think he has discharged his duties creditably, even though, he has been on the chair for a short period."

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on the performance of Parliament in the First Session of the Fourth Parliament. He said in the beginning many people especially the Minority thought he would be a partial Speaker but he had proved them wrong, adding; "he is learning very fast. "The Speaker is not a card-bearing member of the government but I can say that he is a sympathiser, so realistically one cannot say he is neutral politically but he has been so impartial that we the Majority have had the cause to think he is too sympathetic to the Minority."

On the Majority relationship with the Minority, the Chief Whip said it had been very cordial except that occasionally there had been some disagreements. "For instance the walkout of the Minority during the debate on the 60 million dollar loan facility for rural electrification and the construction of Office of the President at the Flag Staff House," he said. Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the walkout was not necessary especially when they had been given the opportunity to articulate their views on the matter.

On absenteeism and quality of debates in the House, he said the current constitutional arrangement where majority of Ministers of State must come from Parliament had affected the strength of the Majority during debates and voting. "Many of the able ones have been taken away as Minister and Deputies and only a few endeavour to be present notably the Minister of the Interior, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing and a few others. "They have been able to combine their ministerial responsibilities with that of a Member of Parliament." The Chief Whip called for a critical look at that constitutional provision, adding; "I sincerely believe that the provision does not affect non-Cabinet Ministers and Deputy Ministers". Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said: "The appointment of over 60 Ministers and Deputy Ministers from the ranks of the Majority was costly as it affects the attendance in the House and the quality of debates."

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