The Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu has attributed the increasing rate of absenteeism in Parliament to the huge financial burden on Members of Parliament.
The Speaker of Parliament has on several occasions expressed concern over the non-attendance of parliamentary sessions by most members.
Speaking at a forum for the Core Leadership of Parliament, Osei Kyei Members Bonsu said most MPs absent themselves to look for money to solve financial challenges they incurred during the electoral process.
He, therefore, called for a review of the processes for electing Members of Parliament to address this challenge.
“The MPs must go round looking for contracts and so on and leave the chamber so the work in the chamber has to be borne by a few people…The workload in Parliament is borne by a group of not more than 50 members of Parliament. The rest of them are just following [up on other things] in town so we must be serious with ourselves. If we really want to build a strong Parliament, let us completely review what processes and procedures that we are subjecting Members of Parliament and aspiring Members of Parliament to.”
The increasing rate of absenteeism has been identified by some civil society groups as a serious challenge to the development of the legislature.
First Deputy Speaker, Joe Osei Owusu, recently said MPs who absent themselves without any explanation will be sanctioned.
Many have complained about some MPs’ seeming apathy to the work of Parliament as they continue to absent themselves during sittings.
Ministers of State who double as Members of Parliament were the worst culprits of absenteeism without permission during the First and Second sittings of the Seventh Parliament, 2017.
The Ministers, including deputies, absented themselves from at least 15 sittings without the permission of the Speaker of Parliament.
This was contained in a report by Odekro; a civil society organization focused on activities of the legislature.
According to the report, the guilty MPs consisted of 18 Ministers and 21 Deputy Ministers.
Speaker meets ’empty’ Parliament; scolds MPs for lateness
The Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, in October 2017 was angry at Members of Parliament for being late for meetings of the House.
His comments followed the presence of fewer than five MPs on their seats, at the time proceedings were scheduled to begin at 10:00 am.
Disappointed by the emptiness of the House, Prof. Oquaye rebuked the MPs and charged leaders of the House to get members on the floor to do business on time, saying the taxpayers do not expect lateness from them.
“Our people who pay us expect that work should be done, so let us at least take the opportunity to see how we can contain the situation to ameliorate the problem rather than taking advantage of it and going home,” he added.