Members of Parliament (MPs) will resume their legislative functions today when the legislative body commences the second meeting of the fourth session of the seventh Parliament.
Ahead of the resumption, the leadership of Parliament has hinted that some MPs may be allowed to occupy the public gallery in order to adequately observe the social distancing protocol when the House reconvenes after three weeks of recess.
The public gallery is usually occupied by members of the public who want to witness parliamentary proceedings but following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ghana, Parliament announced that no member of the public will be allowed in the public gallery as part of safety measures.
Briefing the Daily Graphic on the agenda for the Legislature when it resumes, the Director of Public Affairs of Parliament, Ms Kate Addo, said that all available options were being considered, including the use of the public gallery by MPs to ensure social distancing.
She said while the discussion on the use of the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) as temporary House for business had not been abandoned, the immediate plan was to consider the public gallery as the house reconvenes.
“All options to make it safe and to help members adhere to the safety protocols particularly, the social distancing.
“At the moment, Parliament has stopped the public from visiting to observe proceedings, so that space is free and as part of discussions, we are thinking that perhaps if members come in their numbers, we may ask some of them to relocate upstairs, until a solution is found or things return to normal,” Ms Addo explained.
Ms Addo said certain bills that were brought before the House but were referred to the various committees would be major items for the next meeting of the House.
She said 36 bills including the Affirmative Action; Criminal Offences (Amendment Bill); National Ambulance Service (Amendment); Value Added Tax (Amendment) and Borrowers and Lenders Bill, would also be presented to the House.
The House will also confirm or otherwise state the fate of President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s nomination of four people to the position of Supreme Court judges.
Prior to the reopening of the second meeting of Parliament, the Appointments Committee vetted the four persons nominated by the President as justices of the Supreme Court.
They are Professor Henrietta J. A. N. Mensah-Bonsu, a Law lecturer of the University of Ghana, Legon; Mr Emmanuel Yonny Kulendi, a private legal practitioner; Mr Justice Clemence Honyenuga and Mr Justice Issifu Tanko Amadu, both Justices of the Court of Appeal.
Three of the nominees, Prof. Mensah-Bonsu, Mr Kulendi and Mr Amadu were able to sail through the vetting process successfully after they were unanimously approved by the committee.
Justice Honyenuga, however, failed to secure unanimous approval from the committee.
The 10-7 majority decision will require the plenary of Parliament to undertake a full debate and for a vote to be taken.