The Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, has dismissed suggestions that the creation of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs will emasculate Parliament in favour of the Executive.
Rather, he said, the ministry was to serve as an interface between Parliament and the Executive and also be an interface between Parliament and civil society.
He said the collaboration would promote consensus building, inclusiveness, deepen policy formulations in Parliament and minimise tension in national discourse.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who is also the Majority Leader, made the remarks last Wednesday in Accra when he inaugurated a nine-member Ministerial Advisory Board of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.
The board has Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu as the Chairman, with Mr Abraham Osei Aidoo, a former Minister for Parliamentary Affairs; Nana Rex Owusu Ansah, a former Clerk to Parliament; Mr William Ofori Boafo, a former Member of Parliament (MP), and Ace Anan Ankomah, a legal practitioner, as members.
Other members are the Director of Newspapers, Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), Mr Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh; the Director, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Azu Sam-Aziakor; Ms Dorothy Adadzewa Twumasie, and Ms Joyce Oteng Bosomprah, both officers at the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu recalled that the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs was first created in the first National Democratic Congress (NDC) government under President Jerry John Rawlings, which was replicated in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government under President John Agyekum Kufuor.
However, he said, the ministry's function was seen to be inconsistent with the Parliamentary Service, while some political observers argued that the ministry's function would further weaken the oversight role of Parliament.
Some observers also said it was not necessary for the Majority Leader to play a dual role as a leader of the House and be responsible for coordination and collaboration between the Executive and Parliament without being seen to compromise the effectiveness of opposition parties.
He said the African Peer Review Mechanism Report suggested that the ministry was a step to emasculate Parliament, and that it was a device that the Executive had resorted to weaken Parliament.
He said the then Minority Leader, Mr Alban Bagbin, indicated that he would not double as the Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs when the NDC won the majority in Parliament.
He said the arguments strengthened former President John Evans Atta Mills to collapse the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the rebirth of the ministry at this crucial moment of the country's democratic dispensation was as a step forward to further enhance collaboration, and good governance in the country.
He said the work of the ministry would create understanding and reduce tension in the country's democratic discourse that was influenced by extreme partisanship which degenerated into confusion at the expense of the rapid development.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu observed that Parliament, more or less, did nothing about petitions it received from the public.
"Even when petitions come from civil society it is difficult to process them. Petitions come from the people to the representatives of the people and more or less nothing is done about them," he said.
He stated that the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs would, therefore, serve as a platform to rally petitions from the public and civil society organisations and feedback to Parliament and also to the Executive.
He stressed that it was the Executive that caused many of the laws to be crafted and indicated that the effects of those laws on the citizenry should have feedbacks to the Executive in a very structured manner.
He indicated that with the experience of the members of the Advisory Board, he was confident that they would provide the necessary suggestions and guidance towards achieving the aims and objectives of the ministry.
Mr Aidoo, who spoke on behalf of the other members, said all the members had engagements with Parliament in one way or the other.
Therefore, he said, the members would provide the guidance to promote collaboration between the Executive and the Legislature and enhance the country's democracy.
Source: Daily Graphic