Parliamentary c’ttee sittings to be open to public – Speaker



The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, has disclosed that soon the sittings of every committee of Parliament will be open to the media and the public.

He said just like the hearings of the Public Accounts Committee, opening up the sittings of the committees would allow Ghanaians to appreciate the work that committees of Parliament did.
Prof. Oquaye made the disclosure when he addressed the maiden awards ceremony of the Parliamentary Press Corps (PPC) in Accra last Friday.

 “The committees are the workshops of Parliament and you realise that a lot of work takes place there. If you do not visit, how do you appreciate the work of Parliament?” he asked.

Parliamentary reporter

The event was held on the theme: “The Parliamentary reporter as an effective link in promoting peaceful democratic elections” and was organised by the PPC, with the support of Parliament and some business entities.

The sittings of the various designated committees of Parliament mandated to consider issues of national interest have always been held behind closed doors.

There are currently 31 committees in Parliament.
Important instruments

The Speaker noted that since not all Ghanaians could go to Parliament to witness what went on there, reports from journalists, as bastions of democracy, were the means by which the people could appreciate matters relating to democratic governance in the country.

For that matter, he said, journalists were important instruments in Ghana’s democracy, particularly during elections, and urged journalists to know the dynamics of parliamentary procedures and processes to inform Ghanaians effectively.

“You have to appreciate and know the rules of the game, and that is the only way you can report effectively. You must know matters relating to question time, committee and consideration stages of bills.

“Knowledge of the subject matter is the essence of a good reporter because if you do not really know what is happening, then it is just story-telling, and in that respect you can make serious mistakes,” he said.

Be circumspect

The Minority Ranking Member on Communications, Alhaji A.B.A Fuseini, who represented the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, commended the media for the indispensable role they were playing to fortify Ghana’s parliamentary democracy.

He, however, urged the media to take steps to improve on their work, especially in areas where they fell short with regard to the ethics of the profession.

Alhaji Fuseini, who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Sagnarigu, said while the media faced challenges, such as the lack of tools, they nonetheless must be circumspect and report accurately and impartially.

“You have the binding duty to be accurate and truthful, as well as balanced, in your reportage, such that society can make informed choices to enhance our democracy,” he said.

Support

The Deputy Director of the Public Affairs Department of Parliament, Mrs Margaret Ampah, said the media had the onerous role of bringing the public and Parliament together.

She expressed Parliament’s commitment to seek the welfare of members of the PPC, including training programmes to enhance their knowledge in order for them to discharge their duties effectively.

The Dean of the PPC, Nana Agyeman Birikorang, said as part of efforts to support members of the association in their educational pursuits, an educational fund would soon be launched with seed money of GH¢20,000, out of which members would be given grants to further their education in tertiary institutions.

The Speaker of Parliament, on behalf of Parliament, donated GH¢10,000 towards the cause.

Award winners

In all, five members of the PPC and three MPs were presented with awards.

The Overall Best Parliamentary Reporter for 2019 award was won by Mr Eugene Davies of the Business and Financial Times.

He received GH¢5,000 which was a donation from the Speaker on behalf of Parliament.

The Most Friendly Media Personality in the Majority Caucus went to the MP for Efutu, Mr Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin, while the Most Friendly Personality in the Minority Caucus was conferred on the MP for Ellembelle, Mr Emmanuel Kofi Buah.

Special citation

The Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban Sumana Bagbin, received a special citation for his invaluable support to the media, especially the PPC, as well as his contributions to Ghana’s democratic journey.

Source: Graphic Online

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