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2nd bribery scandal needs bigger, wider investigations - CDD pushes

Parliament has been urged to investigate a fresh bribery scandal in which MPs accepted monies to deliberate on the Lottery Bill before it was passed into law in 2016.

Parliament has been urged to investigate a fresh bribery scandal in which MPs accepted monies to deliberate on the Lottery Bill before it was passed into law in 2016. Governance and Legal Policy Officer of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Kojo Pumpuni Asante, told Joy FM Wednesday, the scandal justifies earlier calls for defining and wide investigations into parliament's conduct and shaky ethics. He said investigations into the Ayariga bribery saga last January was "very narrow" and failed to address "bigger" concerns about the integrity of Parliament.

Parliament was hit by allegations that members of its Appointments Committee received GHC3,000 prior to the approval of the Energy minister-designate, Boakye Agyarko. Parliament rejected calls for an external body to look into the brouhaha and opted to set up a committee of some MPs to investigate the claims made public by Bawku Central MP Mahama Ayariga. He finally had to apologise and retract the allegation after the Committee found no proof of bribery.
Bawku Central MP Mahama Ayariga
But barely six months after the Appointments committee bribery saga, the Finance committee of parliament is now next in the line of controversy. Former Chairman of the Finance Committee, James Klutse Avedzi, has admitted his committee received money from officials of the National Lottery Authority before a law was passed. He said the Authority first presented GHC50,000 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."
Emails intercepted by Joy FM's Kojo Yankson explains the NLA needed to part with the monies to 'push' the law through. Dismayed by the latest scandal, Kojo Pumpuni Asante condemned the payment, noting that a "whole lot is wrong with it". He said the 100,000 cedis is "basically payment to influence parliamentarian to perform tasks they are already established under law to do".
Photo: Kojo Pumpuni Asante
He expressed disappointment in the NLA for showing scant regard for corporate governance. "The fact that a board can approve this kind of payment is worrying for public financial management. It seems like there is no respect for corporate governance" he said.
Nonetheless this second bribery saga, he said is "another opportunity" for Parliament to do work it shunned the previous time of asking. "This time we should have a committee that looks at a much broader issue" like the rules around the payment of allowances, Dr Asante said. The Governance and Legal Policy Officer believes Parliament's integrity is in tatters and urged its leaders not to disregard a second chance to salvage "what is left of the integrity of parliament".


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