Committee on Government Assurances engages CSOs to strengthen its work

Accra, April 17, GNA – The Committee on Government Assurances (CGA) of Parliament on Wednesday met with civil society groups within the governance landscape, to deliberate on how to effectively track government assurances to promote good governance.

The Penplusbytes (PPB), a not-for-profit organization, provided the platform that enabled the Committee and the CSOs to discuss pathways to adopt, in making the CGA more effective in its work.

The CGA is a special Committee in Parliament established in 1998 to pursue all government assurances, promises and undertakings, given by Cabinet Ministers and report to the House of Parliament on the extent to which such assurances have been carried out.

The workshop, held under the second phase of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa’s (OSIWA) funded project dubbed, “Connecting Citizens to Parliament”, therefore, offered the platform to explore other opportunities to better include citizens’ voices in the governance process.

Ms Juliet Amoah, Executive Director of Penplusbytes, said the workshop was being organised to provide the CGA, new and easier ways of monitoring the promises of the Executive, and holding them accountable.

“It is for this reason that Penplusbytes has decided on gathering thoughts of likeminded organisations during this one-day workshop.

“We believe using a concerted and inclusive approach would achieve a greater impact than previously,” she stated.

She said as part of the programme, the Committee members and the citizens would be provided a digital platform to track government’s promises and know how far the government had gone in fulfilling it.

Mr Jerry Sam, Deputy Director in charge of Programmes, Penplusbytes, explained that under the OSIWA project, Penplusbytes, from a civic tech and civil society point of view, seeks to continue to empower citizens to be active participants in the development process.

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It also seeks to deploy resources and technology to allow citizens to monitor how services were delivered by the Executive and report to Parliament through CGA.

He said the initiative would ensure that the CGA and Parliament, were better informed and more equipped to perform their oversight responsibility over government.

With support from Star-Ghana, Penplusbytes in 2014, built the interactive tech platform, which incorporated social media and effectively linked citizens with Parliament.

The initiative was able to overcome the limitations of citizens accessing and interfacing with Parliament and the Executive.

However, in 2015 with support from OSIWA, the work was scaled-up by employing all available tools, including new media and mobile technologies, to provide citizens with improved access to the work of the CGA.

Mr Collins Owusu Amankwa, Chairperson of the CGA, thanked Penplusbytes for working to ensure that the Committee’s oversight role was made much easier and more effective.

He asked the media to rally behind the Committee to track all such promises and assurance made by the government, to the citizens and undertakings given by Ministers of State.

“Democracy is all about accountability and we have the power to do so. We have the power to scrutinise, to examine, and to summon Ministers to appear before the Committee. So, the media and civil society organisations should support us to scrutinize government to entrench our democracy,” Mr Amankwa stated.

Mr Rashid Pelpuo, Ranking member of the Committee, said the platform being provided by Penplusbytes would help in strengthening “our democracy and the quality leadership being looked for by the citizens”.

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kwabena Frimpong

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