Parliamentary Affairs Minister wants CSOs to scrutinise bills before consideration

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Member of Parliament for Suame Constituency Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has proposed the creation of a platform which will allow Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to first scrutinize bills before they are brought to Parliament. According to him, contributions from the CSOs to the bills before they are brought to Parliament for further deliberation will not only enhance quality of the bills passed but also strengthen the work of Parliament. Last year, a number of civil society groups expressed their opposition to the passage of the Plant Breeders Bill into law. The groups, which included the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, the General Agricultural Workers Union, Catholic Bishops Conference and Christian Council of Ghana, stated that the bill is not in the best interest of the country. The bill, which has been in Parliament since 2013, has suffered a number of protest by farmer groups and some individuals. Again in 2014, CSOs warned Parliament not to rush passage of the Petroleum Exploration and Production (E&P) Bill, noting that the bill when passed into law will ensure open and competitive bidding for oil blocs as well as mandatory disclosure of oil contracts and beneficial owners. It is on this backdrop that Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Osei Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu while commenting on President’s call on Parliament to effectively monitor public finances explained that one way of strengthening Parliament is not to encourage CSOs to embark on demonstrations and press conferences alone but allowing Civil Society Organizations to contribute to Bills from government by scrutinizing them first before they get to Parliament. He noted: “If we want to strengthen Parliament to fight corruption, we need to create platform for these CSOs to contribute to Bills from government so that their contributions can also help government’s programs and policies”. The Majority Leader and leader of the House opined that when the CSOs meet and go through the Bills and make their recommendations, those recommendations will be sent back to government to see how best they can be factored into the Bills. This he said will also make the work of Parliament easier and not avoid a lot of back and forth. “When the CSOs go through the Bills and feel strongly about anything in the Bill, they will make it known then those views will be sent back to the government for considerations. “Their inputs are valuable. We need such platform with the CSOs,” he told host of Onua 95.1 FM’s morning show host Bright Kwesi Asempa.

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By Bright Dzakah|Onua 95.1 FM||Ghana ]]>