The Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, has directed Parliament to exert pressure on the committee that is supposed to advise him on the appointment of four individuals to serve on the Parliamentary Service Board (PSB).
He said the advice of the members of the committee should reach his office on or before Friday, March 26, failure of which he would interpret it as an attempt to obstruct the performance of the Speaker.
According to him, until the committee recommended the names of individuals who were to be appointed on the PSB, he could not, on his own accord, proceed to appoint the members since that would constitute a breach of the 1992 Constitution.
“I am not a Member of Parliament and so I need you to be able to function. You may need to go back and consider the committee that you set up or put pressure on the committee to submit the advice of the House on who those members are. Then I will proceed to do the appointment, we will inaugurate the board and we will proceed to work,” he stated.
Attempt to obstruct
Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Mr Bagbin said: “Since I became the Speaker, Parliament’s committee has not given me any advice and I do not want to do this thing in a confrontation with Parliament.”
“And I agree that the advice should reach my office on or before Friday this week. Failure to receive that advice, Mr Speaker will proceed to interpret it as an attempt to obstruct the Speaker from performing his duty and Mr Speaker will proceed to do what Mr Speaker considers right,” he said.
The Speaker gave the directive after some MPs had raised concerns over the absence of the PSB, a situation which was severely affecting the functions of the Legislature and sought to ascertain from the Speaker what was frustrating him in the performance of his functions.
The MPs included the Members of Parliament (MPs) for Banda, Mr Ibrahim Ahmed and Bawku Central, Mr Mahama Ayariga, both of whom belong to the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Who are to be PSB members?
The PSB comprises the Speaker as the Chairman, the Clerk-to-Parliament, the Majority and Minority Leaders, one sitting MP and a former MP.
Refusal to advise
The Speaker said the committee, which was supposed to advise him on the appointment of members to the PSB had so far failed and refused to perform their duty since he became Speaker.
He said he had made several follow-ups for the advice of the committee but “as of today, the advice is not yet before me.”
“I have been contemplating proceeding to appoint and then your committee or yourselves will take me to court to say that I do not have that authority. But we need to have the Parliamentary Service Board in place,” he stressed.
He said many things were pending to be executed by Parliament but “we cannot proceed on them because of the absence of the Parliamentary Service Board.”
Mr Ahmed said Parliament, which had oversight responsibility of the Executive, was prompt to chastise the latter for not constituting the boards of state corporations or agencies.
“We always exert pressure to make sure that those boards of state institutions are constituted, but if you come to Parliament of Ghana, not forming the Parliamentary Service Board reveals a serious breach of the Constitution,” he said.
He, therefore, questioned what exactly was obstructing the Speaker from appointing the members to constitute the PSB, given the fact that the committee that was supposed to advise the Speaker had already been constituted by the House.
Sanction of committee
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) for Nsawam-Adoagyiri, Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh, also acknowledged that a committee, consisting of the leadership of both sides of the House, to advise the Speaker on the appointment of the members of PSB had already been constituted.
While he agreed that the committee must be up and advised the Speaker on members to be appointed onto the PSB, Mr Annoh-Dompreh did not think the issue should have come to the plenary for discussion.
“This is a matter that could have been dealt with without being necessarily brought unto the floor,” he said.
What is frustrating Mr Speaker?
The NDC MP for Bawku Central, Mr Ayariga, said there were a number of people who had gone through the interviews to be recruited into the Parliamentary Service but they had been told that they were unable to recruit them due to the absence of the PSB to process their appointment.
He also said apart from the MPs, the welfare and well-being of the rest of the staff, as well as procurement of goods and services, were to be regulated and managed by the PSB to make Parliament functional.
“Mr Speaker, if there is a frustration preventing you from doing so, let us know as a House so that the committee this House voted and approved to carry out this function may be duly sanctioned by this House. We can change them and give them new timelines,” he said.