Parliament has been advised to intensify its constituency outreach programmes to help create space for Parliamentarians to interface with their constituents on regular basis.
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, Prof. Domwini Dabre Kuupole said such outreach programmes are critical to the sustenance of the nation’s Parliamentary democracy and should therefore be replicated at least once a year in all the regions of the country, to create a better understanding of the legislative institution.
Prof. Kuupole gave this advice when he chaired a joint constituency forum held at Cape Coast to educate the people of Cape Coast North and South constituencies on the role, work and duties of Members of Parliament.
Prof. Kuupole was impressed with the level of the cordiality and unity among the Members of Parliament present and advised the supporters of the various Political Parties to emulate this example as a sure way of ensuring peace in the nation’s body politic.
The first Deputy Speaker and Member of Parliament for Cape Coast North Hon. Ebo Barton - Odro who led the Majority team underscored the importance of such interactions as a means of explaining the exact duties of Members of Parliament and the role of Parliament as a governance institution.
He drew the attention of the gathering to the various checks and balances in the Parliamentary system such as the fact that some committees like Public Accounts and Subsidiary Legislation are headed by members of the Minority to ensure accountability.
This is meant to ensure that Parliament plays its oversight role on the Executive effectively.
Hon. Joe Ghartey who was at the Head of Minority group stressed that the primary responsibility of Parliament is law making, other key roles include deliberation, representation and oversight of the Executive.
The Second Deputy Speaker also explained the use of the MPs share of the District Assembly Common Fund saying the funds are not given to Members of Parliament directly, rather what happen is that members identify projects and choice which they direct or instruct the District Assembly to disburse on projects of their choice for the benefit of constituents.
He therefore called on Municipal and District assemblies to do all within their power to ensure prompt release of funds meant for development projects.
Hon Ben Ayeh, MP for Upper Denkyira West on his part revealed that in most cases Parliamentarians work together as one group always striving to build consensus.
It is only on the few occasions that there are disagreements that these are highlighted in the media.
There were contributions from other Members of Parliament present which include Hon. Obeng -Inkoom, Hon. Ato Arthur and Hon. Abeiku Crentsil who assisted in answering questions that were posed by constituents.
The forum was interactive, and a major part was devoted to a questions and answers session which mainly dealt with issues relating to the work of the legislature, while a few questions were also directed at the Executive.
There were questions which mainly centered on the establishment of constituency offices to facilitate effective communication between Members of Parliament and their constituents.
Other questions bordered on health, employment creation, and the role of the national development planning commission, a question was also asked on constitutional requirement which enjoins the President to select 50% of Minister from Parliament, noting that the arrangement goes against the concept of separation of powers.
Another questioner also sought to know the status of independent parliamentarians and the ones with small representation like C.P.P and P.N.C. which have a member each.
Osabarima Kwesi Atta II Omanhen of Oguaa Traditional Area advised Parliament to work hard to deal with all the misconceptions and negative perception about its work and strive to ensure a better understanding of the legislative institution.
Source: Kate Addo, Dep. Director, Public Affairs, Parliament