Ghanaians are pushing for an Open Parliament that will provide the public with all activities of their representatives in the legislature.
This was disclosed here on Tuesday by Lolan Sagoe Moses, Content Manager for Odekro.org, an Open Data organization that seeks to promote transparency, provide online access to public records and empower citizens to keep an eye on public officials.
He was speaking at the launch of the Report on the Sixth Parliament of Ghana.
“We believe that parliament must go a step further and record the actual votes in the taking of decisions. And make those votes public. The current speaker of parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, made this point in his inaugural speech also,” he stated.
With that kind of openness, Moses believed electorate would be better informed on the choices they make on their representatives.
“We have a case where two former MPs were contesting against each other and we have no idea what their voting records were on issues and so they could stand on political platforms and make promises to us and make claims,” Moses added.
He expressed worry that, without parliamentary data, there was no way of crosschecking their claims with what they had said or what they voted on in parliament to ascertain their actual policy position.
The official added: “So, I think that with available data for citizens, this is a better predictor of policy positions they will take than the pronouncements they will make on the campaign platforms.”
The report rated the performance of the 275 Members of Parliament (MPs) in categories of Best Performers and Worst Performers, using attendance and contributions in parliamentary debates, while naming 19 MPs as The Silent who never participated in any discussions in the house over the period of four years.
Incidentally, 12 out of the 19 lost their parliamentary seats in the just ended general election.
In his comment, a Member of Parliament for Ho West, Emmanuel Bedzrah, said the legislature itself was mindful of the need to provide open access to data but however lamented the lack of resources to improve the data storage in parliament.
“All over the world, there is an initiative called Open Parliament Initiative, and I am a member of the international working group. We want every parliament to open up, including bills that come, to be up there for access,” Bedzrah indicated. Enditem