The Speaker of Parliament defers debate on controversial ‘Gift’ Bill

The Speaker of Parliament has deferred debate and vote on some provisions of the Conduct of Public Officers’ Bill following a media frenzy over some controversial sections which invoked public anger.

The Speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho took the decision during sitting of the House on Thursday after Members of Parliament (MPs) reviewed media reports on Parliamentary deliberations on the Bill at Wednesday’s sitting.

It came after a senior Member of the Majority bench accused some media houses of twisting reports on some provisions in the Bill.

The proposed legislation, for instance, seeks to set a GH¢10,000 ceiling above which any gift received by a public officer must be disclosed or deemed to have been unlawfully acquired.

The bill, among other things provides for circumstances under which a gift to a public officer may be deemed lawful or unlawful.

On the floor of Parliament on Thursday, Majority Chief Whip, Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak told the House that media reports on the provisions of the bill discussed the previous day was misleading.

“Yesterday the happenings around this bill in the media was seriously misrepresented and it is important that we draw our collegues in the media fraternity that when something is not clear to them they should try and always ask.”

“And because of this misrepresentation, members of parliament were really ridiculed that we were just creating an opportunity for ourselves to continue to receive gifts that are even higher than our salaries. Mr Speaker it is very clear on this bill that what we did yesterday has to do with asset declaration form and what should be on the asset declaration from. And the understanding and amendment that was used is to ensure that not every little thing has to be on the form otherwise its going to be bulky and therefore for any item or property to be in the asset declaration form, it should be valued more than 10,000 and above and never was it referred to gifts.”

Meanwhile, the Majority Chief Whip’s comments attracted varied reactions from his colleagues.

For his part, MP for Manhyia, Mathew Opoku Prempeh said “in as much as I agree with Muntaka, it is not a misrepresentation that was done on air. It is a different interpretation.”

He however urged his colleagues to be circumspect when dealing with the said bill.

“That is why some of us yesterday were of the view that we have to be very cautious with proceeding with this bill because we might do things on just thinking that it is right but what we will suffer out there is properly worse than the good intention of the bill,” the Manhyia legislator added.

By: Godwin Akweiteh Allotey/