Thursday, 20 August 2009

MPs credibility up in smoke as Yamson committee white paper beckons

By Osabutey ANNY

Some members of parliament are worried that the image of the legislature would further plummet as the content of the Ishmael Yamson Committee (IYC) report appears to have indicted the leadership of the house for not being truthful to Ghanaians over circumstances leading to the approval of the Chinery Hesse Committee (CHC) report.

The CHC report which was said to have been approved by the last parliament on January 06th this year generated heated debate and widespread public condemnation because of what many considered were outrageous retirement packages for the former President John Kufuor and others. There was also controversy over whether indeed the CHC report was approved by the parliament as some members of that parliament denied claims that they discussed, debated and approved the report.

The Yamson Committee was set up by President John Mills to review the CHC report and determine whether indeed there has been an approval, following public outrage over what many described as ‘vulgar’ in the light of country’s economic situation.

Recent discussions of the content of the IYC report has brought into further question the credibility of parliament and most MPs are worried the public will come hard on them- especially when previous dealings like the CNTCI loan, the VALCO agreement, the Vodafone deal and many others continue to be bench marks for judging the MPs work.

In the midst of the brouhaha surrounding the IYC’s recommendation that President Mills rejects the CHC report for a number of reasons, some sections of the public have also condemned parliament’s active role in the ‘near deceit’ of Ghanaians over the reported approval of the CHC report. It has among others been confirmed by the IYC that there were suspicious lapses in the communication between the former Chief of Staff and parliament and difficulty in determining which version of the CHC report was allegedly approved by the previous parliament.

Making matters worse for the leadership of parliament is the strong view of some former members of parliament that they never approved the CHC report as it relates to the executive and the IYC’s disclosure that contrary to the provisions of the Constitution what parliament claimed it approved was the emoluments and conditions of service for both parliament and the executive.

The public’s stinging criticism and analysis of the work of parliamentarians is expected to further heighten when the President releases his white paper to the IYC report. But Deputy Majority Leader John Akologu Tia who was fingered to have played a prominent role into getting the initial package allegedly approved, says the public’s sentiments are misplaced.

He told the dailyEXPRESS in an interview that those criticizing MPs have little knowledge of the workings of the legislature and that it’s not a situation of “work of morality” but “procedures and processes” and people should understand it.

Mr. Akologu Tia who was the Deputy Minority Chief Whip in the last parliament insists that he was one of those who condemned the package when it became apparent it was never debated in the house. To him, it is therefore unfair for people to rope all MPs into the saga with the intention of scandalizing them.

MP for Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa P. C. Appiah Ofori disagrees with Mr. Tia. According to him, the public’s loss of confidence in the workings of the legislature is justified. Referring to the CHC report and the alleged approval of emoluments Mr. Appiah Ofori insists that the issue was never tabled before the house and it’s therefore not true that almost all the MPs saw it.

“Though some members of the leadership claim they saw the report that necessarily does not mean the whole house saw it. Parliament was not brought into the picture of the content of the president” he stated.

Zeroing in on the package meant for former president John Kufour Mr. Appiah Ofori said it was unreasonable for the country to hand out all the listed items to the former president at the time Ghanaians are struggling to hold body and soul together. He said the legislature would be able to win back the trust and confidence of the public only when they are ready to look at issues “from the point of view of the interest of the country.”

He said partisan considerations would not be in the interest of anyone and it’s important for the MPs to understand that and put the interest of the country first.

When reached for his reaction over the issue, Minority leader Osei Kyei Mensah who also played a lead role in the CHC report brouhaha told the dailyEXPRESS he was locked up in different meetings and would speak only when the meetings were over.

It would be recalled that the dailyEXPRESS in its January 23, 2009 issue reported that reactions and enquires from among some MPs in the previous parliament indict a core group of the leadership who clandestinely adopted the report. Both John Akologu Tia and Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu were accused by some of their colleagues of deliberately misleading them.

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