MPs who took NLA cash can’t be punished – Parliament

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Former Chairman of Parliament’s Finance Committee, James Klutse Avedzi.

Parliament cannot sanction members of the Finance Committee who received money from the National Lottery Authority (NLA) to deliberate on a Lottery Law, Director of Public Relations has stated.

According to Kate Addo, members of the committee that benefited from the act belonged to the 6th parliament which ceased to function immediately the 7th parliament came into being on January 7, 2017.

Former Chairman of Parliament’s Finance Committee, James Klutse Avedzi, admitted his committee received Ȼ100,000 from officials of the National Lottery Authority prior to consideration of amendments of the National Lottery Act, 2006 (Act 722).

Legal Advisor to the NLA, David Lamptey in separate e-mails - addressed to the then Director-General of the NLA, Brigadier General Martin Ahiaglo (Retired) in August 2016, requested the approval of a total sum of Ȼ150,000 to “push the bill for the consideration” by parliamentarians.

The contradiction

But Mr. Avedzi said the Authority first presented 50,000 cedis to the Committee "but when we looked at the provisions, we realised that the amount was not sufficient so they promised to bring another 50,000 cedis."

This contradicts the position of the NLA's David Lamptey that the funds were spent on accommodation and other resources for the committee members ahead of a workshop at the Royal Senchi Hotel last year. The remaining Ȼ50,000 is yet to be accounted for.

Speaking, however, on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM Thursday, June 29, 2017, Kate Addo said the new parliament cannot answer for actions taken by the previous house which came to an end on January 6, 2017. 

Kate Addo

“The present Parliament is an entirely new parliament and can’t go back to old parliament because their activities are not binding on the subsequent ones,” she stated.

She added that: “When you have a new parliament, you have a clean slate”.

Many of the MPs who took the money are, however, still in the so-called new Parliament.

Unexpected opportunity
 
Kate Addo is unsure if any punitive action could be taken against the MPs except to describe the development as “an eye-opener” which will serve as a basis for parliament to stop Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) from offering assistance to members in doing their work.

“The thing to do is to avoid situations where parliament will accept assistance from any group or any MDAs,” she told Kojo Yanskon, host of the Show.

Independent enquiry

Former boss of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Justice Francis Emile Short called for immediate investigations into the circumstances under which the monies were paid.

Justice Francis Emile Short

Justice Short said the payment is “a very serious allegation which has implications on the image and reputation of our august body of parliament”.

In the light of that, the former CHRAJ Boss proposed the establishment of an independent body to “investigate the matter…and also look at the practice of parliamentarians receiving money for the work that they do."

Play audio attached to listen to excerpts of the discussion: