The Executive Director for Africa Centre for Parliamentary Affairs (ACEPA), Dr Rashid Dramani has described the government’s plans to build constituency offices for Parliamentarians as appropriate.
According to him, having MPs offices in their various constituencies strengthens their ability to effectively represent their people.
“The legitimacy of any Parliament and its members rests on the central claim that they give meaning to political representation in society. Over the years, the weakest link if you ask me is the issue of representation.
“I think this whole idea of constituency offices for Members of Parliament is an idea we should have dealt with right from the very first day when we started this 4th Republic,” he stressed.
Dr. Dramani believes that the absence of a dedicated workspace for legislators has over the years forced legislators to work remotely.
“I remember in the second or third Parliament, a colleague of mine came to this country from the World Bank and we were doing some work with Parliament and the late J.H Mensah. My colleague then asked him, where is your office? He said come, come with me and we kept going towards the car park and he went and opened the boot of his car …and said this is my office,” Dr. Dramani narrated an instance reinforcing his point on JoyNews.
On the point of whether the initiative was relevant. he said the need for the offices outweighs the cost.
“…whether we are going to spend GH₵ 650,000 per office or less or more–for me if we want to make our democracy complete; if we want to give meaning to the issue of representation then this is an idea we have to tackle head-on,”
He was optimistic the initiative would draw Parliamentarians closer to their constituents to help them make informed choices and suggestions when speaking on the floor of the House.
“If there is a structure where we can go and vent whatever challenges we face in the constituency, I think that will help in growing our democracy,” he added.
In March 2021, the government allocated some ¢45.5 million to construct constituency offices for 70 Members of Parliament (MPs).
These buildings are expected to be completed by the end of 2021 so that by the end of 2024, all 275 constituencies will be provided with offices.
The per-unit cost of one office is GH₵ 650,000 and the total cost for all 275 offices is GH₵ 178.75 million.