Parliament Of Ghana Considers New Standing Orders: Minority MPs To Head Appointments Committee

Parliament Of Ghana Considers New Standing Orders: Minority MPs To Head Appointments Committee

  • Parliament is reported to be considering new standing orders to change the way it operates
  • One of the changes is expected to see Minority MPs heading the Appointments Committee of Parliament.
  • MPs will be required to recite the national pledge at the start and end of meetings of Parliament

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Ghana's Parliament is considering a review of its standing orders, which will bring sweeping changes to the way the legislature carries out its work.

These changes have been sighted in a report of the Standing Orders Committee from June 2023.

Parliament Of Ghana Considers New Standing Orders: Minority MPs To Head Appointments Committee
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin (L) Source: Facebook/@ParliamentOfGhana
Source: Facebook

One of these changes will see the Minority side of Parliament chair the Appointments Committee, which considers ministerial nominees, among others.

The proposals also include making a Minority MP chair the proposed Budget Committee of Parliament, as is done for the Public Accounts Committee.

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Some other changes could see the recital of the national pledge at the first and final sittings of meetings and a particular time for backbenchers to make contributions in Parliament.

The Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, has in the past called for a review of some standing orders of Parliament.

The current standing orders were put in place in 2000.

Below are five key proposals being considered.

1. New committees proposed

The proposals also include 14 new committees to handle legislative work in Parliament.

The committees proposed include the Committee on Security and Intelligence, the Committee on Ways and Means, a Budget Committee, the Petitions Committee, the Committee on Bills, the Committee on Ethics and Standards and the Committee on Independent Institutional Bodies.

The Committee on Independent Institutional Bodies will, for example, will have the mandate to probe institutions like the Electoral Commission of Ghana, which has been summoned to Parliament on a number of controversial issues.

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In line with the committees, the new standing orders are proposing that all committee sittings be made public.

2. Stricter sanctions

The new standing orders will also prescribe stricter sanctions for wronging Parliament.

There have been examples were officials summoned to Parliament have not shown up without explanation.

For example, contempt of Parliament could come with a fine or jail time for up to one year.

“It applies to the MPs themselves if they indeed act in a way that draws Parliament’s name into disrepute," Joy News' Evans Mensah remarked when commenting on the proposals. reported on a case of contempt recently where the business mogul Daniel McKorley, known popularly as McDan, was cited.

In that instance, he was asked to pay a fine of GH¢40,000 or be jailed for 21 days in default.

3. MPs to sign attendance electronically

To address concerns about the attendance of MPs and problems with voting, Committee recommended the adoption of the signing of an Attendance Register in the Chamber by manual or electronic means.

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"The signed Register of Attendance is expected to be the evidence of attendance of a Member in the Chamber," the report stated.

The committee expressed hope that this will address concerns associated with the attendance of MPs and voting controversies.

4. Special time for backbenchers

The Standing Orders Committee recommended the setting aside of one hour on the last Wednesday of each month for the business of Backbenchers.

"This is to afford a Member of Parliament, who is not a Minister of State, Deputy Minister of State, part of Leadership of the House or of Leadership of a Committee, the opportunity to make a Statement, present a Petition, move a Motion or initiate a Private Member's Bill," the report explained.

The committee noted further that the inclusion of a Backbenchers' Time is in accordance with practices from other modern parliamentary democracies.

5. Minority given new powers

More committees will now be chaired by Minority in Parliament.

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The new addition includes the Appointments Committee.

The other committees that will have Minority chairpersons are the Public Accounts Committee, Committee on Subsidiary Legislation, Committee on Government and Parliamentary Assurances and the Budget Committee.

The report recommended that the Chairpersons of all other Committees be appointed based on the numerical strength of the Parties in Parliament.

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