The Executive Director of the African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs (ACEPA) has said criticisms against Parliament for not doing due diligence on the botched Power Distribution Service (PDS) Ghana Limited agreement are well deserved.
Dr Rashid Dramani blamed some of the drawbacks hampering the legislature’s inability to perform to full capacity on institutional incapacity.
“Over the years, they know that they need to strengthen the institution [Parliament] and have structures in place that will help them to do the kind of scrutiny they need on some of the bills and agreements that come before them, but do they have them?” he quizzed.
He told Evans Mensah on Joy FM’s discussion programme Ghana Connect “Nothing stops Parliament from creating the structures that would make it more efficient.”
Dr Dramani who worked with the sixth Parliament since Ghana’s return to democratic governance said ACEPA “prepared all the documents and structures that are needed to have a scrutiny unit in place.”
“Everything was passed by the Parliamentary Service Board (PSB) but if you ask me today where the unit is, I cannot show you.”
Parliament has gotten its fair share of the blame after it turned out that PDS, did not have the required guarantees in the concession agreement.
Government has commenced a full-scale inquiry into the detected breaches in the concession agreement with PDS, which is expected to be completed within 30 days.
Government has suspended the concession agreement with PDS, bringing back ECG to be in full control of power distribution.
The decision was taken after government detected fundamental and material breaches of PDS’s obligation in the provision of Payment Securities (Demand Guarantees) for the transaction, which has been discovered upon further due diligence.
Many people including the Minority in Parliament and energy experts have called for a probe into how come government missed this critical aspect when signing the agreement.
But the ACEPA boss believes Parliament can do better.
He told Evans Mensah about his embarrassment at a meeting on Parliamentary Budget in Ottawa, Canada which Ghana’s Parliament was absent.
“This was a meeting for all countries around the world that have Parliamentary budget offices. Its is a specialised unit that supports Parliament in its analysis of financial documents, budgets and so on. It supports almost every committee in Parliament.
“We [ACEPA] helped Kenya, Uganda and other countries to set up one but my own country [does not have it]...a Kenyan asked me why we help them set up one, it is up and running and making us very efficient, but Ghana does not have it?” Dr Dramani recounted.
He believes Parliament must be up and doing in getting what will make it efficient.
The ACEPA boss wants those in charge to stop talking too much and doing very little.
Again, Dr Dramani is calling for a look at the constitutional arrangement that “marries the executive to the legislature.”