On 29th December 2020, our President assented to the first Private Members Bill (PMB) which is now known as the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act 2020 (Act 1054).
That piece of legislation, sponsored by the following MPs: Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Haruna Iddrisu, Ras Mubarak and Ben Abdallah Banda, has its long title as “AN ACT to amend the Road Traffic Act, 2004 (Act 683) to proscribe acts that constitute dangerous driving that result in the injury or death of a human foetus or dangerous cycling that result in the injury or death of a human foetus and for related matters.”
Just like the current PMBs in question, Act 1054 also has the same concerns of prison terms and the cost to Ghana (taking care of inmates, health’s etc) which have been cited by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as reasons why he’s refusing to sign these new passed Bills.
In his Memorandum to the Speaker of Parliament of Ghana, the President cited the absence of fiscal impact assessment accompanying these Bills as per PFM Act 921 as another concern.
I am waiting to see any single Bill in Parliament (aside the attempts by the Research Department of Parliament on the RTI Bill when it was before the House), that has come with a fiscal impact assessment in the way the PFM Act requires.
It is my considered opinion that the (un)constitutional nature of a bill passed by parliament should not lie in the mouth of the President to determine. When he does what the Constitution mandates him to do, he can instruct for the issue to be brought before the body clothed with the power to interpret the Constitution to do its job.
We need to stand up to a President who is resorting to covert ways to kill the PMB regime in Ghana, a situation that will erode some of the modest gains made with our parliamentary practice.
I do not want to talk about the fact that one of the Bills the President appears to be vetoing – Criminal Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2022 – is already clocked in as Act 1101 following what we know as the President’s move on that Bill on 2nd August 2023.
Is this new thinking of the President an afterthought?