The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has called on Members of Parliament (MPs) and staff of the Parliamentary Service to show leadership by declaring their assets, in line with the Assets Declaration Law, 1998 (Act 550).
That, he explained, would enable MPs to hold members of the Executive and other public servants accountable.
In line with that, Mr Bagbin said, he would initiate discussions with the leadership of the House and other state actors to put in place measures and systems to ensure that all MPs and staff of Parliament complied with the declaration of assets regulations.
“This is also to ensure that members and staff of Parliament honour their tax obligations on time and all outstanding issues of over-payment and under-payment reported on by the Auditor-General from 2001 to 2008 and 2009 to 2016 retired and settled without any further delay by all affected MPs and former MPs,” he said.
Addressing the opening session of the second meeting of the eighth Parliament last Tuesday, Mr Bagbin explained that the initiative was part of measures to strengthen the oversight responsibility of Parliament to enable it to hold the government and state institutions accountable to the people for the power, trust, resources and hope reposed in them.
He said while holding the Executive arm of government and state institutions to account for their stewardship of the country, it behooves Parliament to be open, transparent and accountable to the people.
“As the saying goes, charity begins at home. As the constitutional and legal head of the institution of Parliament, the spokesperson, the arbitrator and guarantor of its authority, independence and privileges, I pledge to lead this efforts by example,” he stated.
Mr Bagbin further pledged that Parliament would continue to deepen and widen the scope of the already cordial relationship between it and the Judiciary.
“As arms of government, Ghanaians expect nothing from us but to see us work in harmony for the betterment of their lives and the development of the country,” he said.
Touching on the recent decisions and directives of the Supreme Court and other courts of competent jurisdiction in a number of cases that affected the way the House conducted its affairs, the Speaker called for a review of the composition and the procedures of the House in view of those decisions.
“The earlier we do that, the better for all of us and the country,” he said.
In line with that, Mr Bagbin said the House had decided to create a platform for its partners in academia and legal and governance practice to lead a more focused and detailed discussion of the implications and effects of the decisions of the courts on the practice and procedure of Parliament and the relationship between the Judiciary and the Legislature.
“Such a national discourse will provide valuable inputs to enable Parliament to revise and refine our rules, laws and Standing Orders to comply with the provisions of the 1992 Constitution,” he said.
The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, in his submission on the issue of the declaration of assets raised by the Speaker, called for a second look to be taken at the constitutional provision on assets declaration to include certain institutions and officers who were not mandated to declare their assets.
He mentioned the members of the Council of State, the Office of the Special Prosecutor, the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs).
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, for his part, welcomed his fellow MPs back from recess and called on the House to take a critical look at issues that were of concern to the citizenry.
Those, he said, included excessive borrowing by the government that saddled the country with huge debts and left no money for successive administrations when they assumed office.