The Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Ben Abdallah Banda, has called for a proper definition of the role of a Member of Parliament (MP) to reduce the burden on MPs.
He said there was a confusion as to whether an MP was supposed to be a development agent in addition to his legislative and other functions in Parliament.
He suggested that the MPs could be made to focus only on their legislative and oversight functions in Parliament while Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) would be solely in charge of development projects.
Mr Abdallah made the call last Wednesday at an engagement between leadership of Parliament and members of the Advisory Board of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs on the performance of Parliament in the First Meeting of the Third Session of the Seventh Parliament of the Fourth Republic.
The event was organised by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs to assess the work of Parliament and solicit views on how to improve upon it.
Mr Abdallah said legislators worked on committees of Parliament and also participated in the consideration of loan agreements and passage of bills into law.
Besides, he said, MPs normally shuttled between Parliament and the ministries lobbying for development projects for their respective constituencies.
He said the MPs also went to their constituencies to ensure that projects were executed to specification.
“The work of an MP has to be well-defined; to be seen as a legislator, allowing the MMDCEs to see to the execution of projects. That will make the parliamentarian as effective as he ought to be,” he said.
Mr Abdallah’s comments were situated within the context of the recent research findings of the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, Legon, which indicated that many of the MPs were underperforming.
The research, which sought to find out the performance of MPs in their various constituencies aside from their duties in Parliament, noted that only 95 of the 275 MPs stood the chance of retaining their seats.
Also, the research, conducted on the theme: “Assessment of 275 Members of Parliament – Perspective from the Constituencies”, captured that only one MP got a 90 per cent rating while majority of them got between 30 and 39 per cent.
Mr Abdallah expressed concern that some journalists and members of civil society organisations (CSOs) did not understand the functions of MPs.
That, he said, was dangerous as they could end up feeding the public with inaccurate information about Parliament and create a disaffection for the House.
He, therefore, urged journalists and members of CSOs to abreast themselves of the roles of MPs to avoid the misreporting and representation of the functions of MPs.
In his assessment of the First Meeting, the Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said Parliament had achieved a lot in the First Meeting in terms of passing of bills into law and approving loan facilities and agreements.
He mentioned the Right to Information Law and the Companies Law as some of the legislations passed during the First Meeting.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said Parliament had succeeded in expanding the country’s democratic system by the way MPs from the Majority and Minority sides had conducted themselves.
For his part, the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, said the Speakers of Parliament had useful working relations with the Majority and Minority sides.
He said there were occasions when the Minority members staged walkouts because they felt that their leaders were not given the chance to make contributions, and indicated that such protests were allowed.
In his contribution, the Chairman of the National Media Commission and member of the Advisory Board of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Yaw Boadu Ayeboafo, lauded Parliament for passing the RTI Bill, which had been on the shelves for years, into law.
He called for improved conditions of service for MPs to enable them to perform their legislative and oversight functions more effectively and efficiently, and stated that if he had the chance, he would pay legislators more than ministers of State.