First Deputy Speaker of Parliament Joseph Osei Owusu made the revelation on the floor of the House after the matter was raised by NDC MP for Ningo-Prampram, Samuel Nartey George.
The NDC MP made the complaint after MPs were directed to sign a register. “Mr. Speaker, this is an honourable House…can we all be truthful to ourselves and to God that if we take today’s votes and proceedings, the names marked present were really present in this chamber”?
He said the practice is pervasive even at committee sittings. “Even State Of the Nation Address they don’t even attend”, the first-time MP observed.
Photo: Sam George is Ninogo-Prampram MP and a debutant in Parliament
“We really need to look at this carefully and find a better way of marking members present,” he said and warned MPs who are honest may be forced to join in the bad practice.
The First Deputy Speaker said this behaviour raises questions over the integrity of MPs. But he would not mention names.
He said he would, however, strike out the names of such MPs from the attendance list whenever this attitude is observed.
Scenes from parliament routinely show a depleted chamber despite a heavy workload.
The Speaker of Parliament on March 3, 2019 watched aghast as only 15 in the 275-seater chamber showed up for work at the time of commencement.
MP absenteeism is a frequent theme in his opening addresses when parliament reconvenes.
There is a website, Odekro.org, dedicated to tracking MP attendance.
Odekro, a parliament-focused civil society organisation released a 50-page report which revealed, Ministers of State who double as Members of Parliament absented themselves more frequently than MPs without a Ministerial position.
As “punitive measures”, Odekro suggests that “MPs found to have no reasonable excuse to be absent without written permission from 15 sittings and beyond should be asked to vacate their seats in line with Article 97(1)(c) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.”