The Center for Democratic Development, CDD-Ghana, says it has taken due notice of media reports, including reported statements from the leadership of Parliament on plans to construct a new 450-seater chamber for MPs.
CDD-Ghana says though it acknowledges the important constitutional roles assigned to Parliament and the need to adequately resource the legislature to discharge its responsibilities effectively, a new chamber at this time is not necessary.
The Center says it has taken note of the efforts made by successive governments of the Fourth Republic, despite the country’s perennial fiscal challenges, to meet the essential physical needs of the House and its members.
According to CDD-Ghana, Parliament has over the past two decades benefited from the construction of an administrative block that includes offices and meeting rooms for its Select and Standing Committees, the completion of the State House Tower Block, popularly known as ‘Job 600’, which has provided office accommodation and meeting rooms for Parliamentarians, and the expansion and refurbishing of the legislative chamber to accommodate the increase in the number of Parliamentarians following the creation of new constituencies in the 2012 election.
The Centre suggests that what Parliament needs to assume its proper place in our governmental system is the appropriate institutional powers, prerogatives, and self-governing rules that would enable Members to initiate legislative solutions to public problems and exercise meaningful oversight of the Executive and public administration.
The statement adds that in the face of the numerous basic needs facing communities across the country, which include a chronic shortage of beds in public hospitals and the deplorable condition of roads, the construction of a new edifice for Parliamentarians is a clear case of misplaced priority.
The centre therefore calls on Parliament, the Parliamentary Service and the Government to heed the justifiable citizen opposition to this proposed project and halt every move regarding that matter.
Meanwhile, the Majority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, has justified the need for an expanded Chamber for Parliament. He cited the swearing in of the President in Parliament which is a constitutional dictate, the lack of space for dignitaries such as the Vice-President, Chief Justice, Past Speakers, former Heads of State and Ministers who may want to observe proceedings and security issues as some of the reasons.
At a news conference in Accra on Thursday, Mr. Kyei Mensah-Bonsu said the intended construction of the 450-seater Chamber does not mean that the number of MPs will be increased. He said the final decision to construct the chamber will, be informed by wider stakeholder consultation.
Mr. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu said feasibility studies on the project has not been concluded, hence the cost has not been determined. He said the proposed project is still at an incubation stage so no firm decision has been taken yet.