MPs and staff must take the lead in declaring assets – Bagbin

RT.Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, Speaker of Parliament, has urged on Members of Parliament (MPs) and Parliamentary Service workers to show leadership by reporting their assets in accordance with the Assets Declaration Law, 1998. (Act 550).

MPs would then be able to hold members of the Executive and other public servants accountable, he explained.

As a result, Mr Bagbin said he would begin conversations with the House leadership and other state actors to put in place procedures and processes to ensure that all MPs and Parliamentary employees adhered to the declaration of assets requirements.

“This is also to ensure that members and staff of Parliament pay their taxes on time, and that all outstanding issues of over-payment and under-payment reported by the Auditor-General from 2001 to 2008 and 2009 to 2016 by all affected MPs and former MPs are retired and settled without further delay,” he said.

Mr Bagbin explained that the initiative was part of measures to strengthen Parliament’s oversight responsibility, allowing it to hold the government and state institutions accountable to the people for the power, trust, resources, and hope reposed in them, during the opening session of the second meeting of the eighth Parliament on Tuesday.

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While the Executive branch of government and state institutions are held accountable for their stewardship of the country, he believes Parliament should be open, transparent, and accountable to the people.

“Charity, as the phrase goes, begins at home.” I commit to lead by example as the constitutional and legal leader of the institution of Parliament, as its speaker, arbitrator, and guarantor of its authority, independence, and privileges,” he declared.

Relationship strengthening

Mr Bagbin also promised that Parliament would continue to improve and broaden the already positive relationship it has with the judiciary.

“As government arms, Ghanaians want nothing more from us than for us to work together for the advancement of their lives and the growth of the country,” he remarked.

In light of the Supreme Court’s and other courts of competent jurisdiction’s recent decisions and instructions in a number of cases that had an impact on how the House did its business, the Speaker called for a review of the House’s composition and processes.

He stated, “The sooner we accomplish it, the better for all of us and the country.”

In that vein, Mr Bagbin stated that the House had decided to establish a platform for its academic and legal and governance partners to lead a more focused and detailed discussion of the implications and effects of court decisions on Parliamentary practice and procedure, as well as the relationship between the Judiciary and the Legislature.

“Such a nationwide debate will provide useful inputs for Parliament to amend and refine our rules, regulations, and Standing Orders to accord with the principles of the 1992 Constitution,” he said.

Borrowing/asset declaration

In his submission on the topic of asset declaration highlighted by the Speaker, Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu advocated for a re-examination of the constitutional provision on asset declaration to include certain institutions and officers who were not required to reveal their assets.

Members of the Council of State, the Special Prosecutor’s Office, the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), and metropolitan, municipal, and district chief executives were mentioned (MMDCEs).

Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader, welcomed his colleagues return from recess and urged the House to examine topics of public concern.

Excessive borrowing by the government, he added, had loaded the country with massive debts and left no money for subsequent administrations when they took power.

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