The Executive Director of the African Center for Parliamentary Journalism and Research, Harrison Kofi Belley, has said the decision by the Public Accounts Committee of parliament to merely surcharge absentee ministers is not punitive enough.
Speaking to Dzifa Bampoh on 3FM’ Friday June 25, he said the “no show” by the absentee ministers of state and the Committee’s resolve to surcharge them is on the minimal side of handing out punishments which is to serve as a deterrent to others.
“I think it is even on the minimal side to surcharge them. It should have been something that the ministers should have suffered themselves not the state because surcharging them means that the ministries are going to pay. I believe that it is about time we start taking Parliament and its work seriously because there have been occasions where ministries and ministers are invited to answer questions in the house and then they deliberately turn it down, not even with the courtesy of informing the leadership of parliament that they will not be able to honor those invitations.”
Mr Belly expressed concerns over the failure to honour invitations by Committees Such actions, he said is inimical to democratic growth and transparency.
“If you are invited and then you know what you are supposed to do you and knows you cannot make there, and not even with the courtesy of informing the Committee ahead of your inability to come so that they will be able to adjust but to allow them to assemble the members and do every preparation and you decide not to come, I think that doesn’t sound well for our parliamentary development and it may be interpreted as people not taking parliament serious.”
The Minister for Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, became the third minister who failed to honor the invitation of the Public Accounts Committee after two of her colleague ministers, the Roads and Highways minister, Mr Kwasi Amoako Atta and the minister for Works and Housing, Francis Asenso-Boakye failed to attend to the sitting.
The chairman for the Committee, James Klutse Avedze openly expressed his anger at the trend of ministers’ absenteeism before the Committee when the Chief Director for the Communications Ministry turned up to represent Ms Owusu-Ekuful with the excuse that the minister had gone on assignment sanctioned by the President.
With apparent anger in his voice, the chairman of the Committee discharged the Chief Director with a simple but instructive message, “kindly communicate to the Minister that we are not happy…on that note, you are discharged.”