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Article 11 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana defines the laws of Ghana as follows…

  1. this Constitution;
  2. enactments made by or under the authority of the Parliament established by this Constitution;
  3. any Orders, Rules, and Regulations made by any person or authority under a power conferred by this Constitution;
  4. existing law; and
  5. common law.

Therefore, chief legislative power has been vested in the Parliament of Ghana. There is only one parliament, which exercises all primary legislative functions.

Since gaining its independence from British colonial rule, the Parliament of Ghana has continued to improve the lives of Ghana’s citizens by representing their concerns and voicing their opinions at the legislative level.

Being the Legislative branch of the Ghanaian government, the Parliament passes bills which when assented to by the President, become the laws that protect the constitutional rights of the citizens of Ghana.

Below are the processes involved in law-making in Ghana.

  1. First Reading: Bill introduced by Minister of State or Private member of Parliament. The Speaker of Parliament reads aloud the long title of the bill
  2. Bill is laid at the table of the house
  3. Bill is referred to the appropriate committee of parliament by the Speaker for study and report
  4. Committee sittings may include public hearings and consideration of memoranda
  5. Committee’s report laid at the table of the house for second reading
  6. Second Reading: Debate on principles of the bill alongside the Committee’s report
  7. Consideration of the Bill:
    1. Amendments to the bill are proposed
    2. Debates arise
    3. Amendments approved or rejected by voting
  8. Third Reading:
    • Bill read for the third time and subsequently passed
    • The clerk of Parliament reads the full title of the bill aloud on the floor of Parliament
  9. Bill transmitted to President for assent:
    • The President after considering the bill shall then signify his assent to make the bill law
    • Bill becomes operational after Gazette
    • However, the President may refuse to assent the bill if he deems it appropriate.
    • If the President refuses to assent to the bill, he shall notify the Speaker of Parliament within 7days after the bill has been presented for assent
    • He shall within fourteen days after his refusal state in a memorandum to the speaker any specific provisions of the bill which is to be reconsidered by Parliament including recommendations for amendments
  10. The President may also refer the bill to the Council of State and accordingly, notify the Speaker
    • This request shall include the President’s statements of amendments that he proposes to the bill
    • The Council of State shall consider the bill and report to the President within the appropriate time with or without the amendments

Read Also >>> HISTORY AND COMPOSITION OF THE PARLIAMENT OF GHANA

The legislative process in Ghana is the “crystallisation of ideas”. It is termed this way because people involved in the lawmaking process put a lot of thoughts and effort into ideas before they are even presented to others. Once presented, these ideas “crystallise” to form a larger, more cohesive unit, which can then be drafted into law.

Many different organisations play major roles in the lawmaking process. Non-governmental organisations, private citizens, public officers, sectors of the government (including the Attorney General’s Office, the Law Reform Commission, and the Sector Ministries) and numerous others have the ability to influence legislation. For example, the Law Reform Commission has the ability to review statutory and customary laws, while Sector Ministries research and gather information for its incorporation into legislative drafts and reports. Although these entities have distinct spheres of influence as well as varying levels of control, the power to actually construct and pass laws is distributed between parliament (which passes the bill) and the President (who assents the bill).

Any citizen with a legislative concern can contact the appropriate Sector Ministry in order to have his or her issue addressed. For example: if a citizen feels passionate about an issue involving forestry or wildlife, he or she can contact the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources. The Minister and his Chief Director will then discuss the proposal and, if deemed appropriate, produce a Cabinet Memorandum. The Cabinet Memorandum includes background information, and the necessity of addressing the issue, and both its financial and policy implications.

In accordance with the constitution, all bills that go before Parliament must
include an “explanatory memorandum” specifically detailing the “policy and principles of the bill, the defects of the existing law, the remedies proposed to deal with those, and the necessity for its introduction.” This memorandum serves as the chief subject matter for subsequent cabinet and committee discussion.

The Cabinet Memorandum then goes before cabinet for decision and policy approval. The cabinet consists of “the President, the Vice President and not less than 10 and not more than 19 Ministers of State. Once cabinet has approved the memorandum, the Secretary to Cabinet informs the Sector Ministry, or the ministry that first initiated the legislation. The Chief Director of the Sector Ministry then produces a set of drafting instructions which are delivered to the Attorney General’s Department.

The Parliamentary Counsel, also known as Legislative Drafters, under the advice of the Attorney General (AG), has the responsibility of drafting all legislative documents.

Upon receipt of the drafting instructions and the Cabinet Memorandum, the Parliamentary Counsel begins the drafting process. Although the AG receives instructions and background information on the bill, additional information and analysis is often needed in order to prepare and consolidate the formal document. In order to attain this information, Counsel in charge of the bill and the AG’s Department hold conferences and consultations to clarify information
to draft the bill. These conferences can span a broad range of topics and include presentations from experts in various fields.

The AG can also easily access government resources. For example, the Legislative Drafters may consult a representative of the Forestry Commission when drafting a bill about forestry or a wildlife issue. However, to consult non-governmental sources, special permission must be granted from the appropriate Sector or Cabinet Minister. This is necessary in order to validate the use of appropriate sources.

After receiving the Cabinet Memorandum and the drafting instructions, and
after completing any necessary research, the Attorney General (Legislative
Drafter) revises the bill.

The AG will then send a copy of the bill to the Sector Ministry who critiques it and returns it to the AG with relevant notations. The AG then revises the bill, drafts it, and sends a copy back to the relevant ministry. The ministry and the AG continue to review and revise the draft until the ministry is satisfied with the product.

When a consensus is reached, the ministry sends the final draft, together with the Cabinet Memorandum and a brief resume of the bill, to Cabinet for consideration and approval for introduction in parliament.

Upon cabinet approval, the bill is sent to the Government Printer, where copies are produced for parliament and published in the Gazette. According to Article 106, clause (2), of the constitution “No bill…shall be introduced in Parliament unless it has been published in the Gazette at least 14 days before the date of its introduction in Parliament.” The bill, as published in the Gazette is introduced in parliament.

The legislative process in parliament can be classified in four stages: first reading, second reading, committee or consideration stage, and third reading.

The First Reading is the first time the bill appears before Parliament. The Speaker reads the long title of the bill and the sponsoring Minister then rises
and bows to the Speaker. The bill is then referred to the relevant committee.

This same committee investigates and examines the bill. During the following
deliberation, the Committee produces a report that forms the basis for the
second reading.

During the Second Reading, Parliament debates the principles and policies
of the bill. The Sector Minister delivers a speech explaining the implications
of the bill and argues for its passage. The minority party will also debate
the bill. Debates of the parliament are recorded verbatim by the Hansard
Department of the Office of the Clerk of Parliament. These recordings, and
other Parliamentary materials including bills, are published as an Official
Report in the Hansard of the Parliament of Ghana.

When the Clerk is satisfied that the bill as finally printed by the Government
printer is a correct version as regards the amendments made during the
passage of the bill the vellum copies are printed and the Clerk sends them
for the assent of the President.

According to Article 106, clause (7), of the Constitution “where a bill passed by parliament is presented to the President for assent he shall signify, within seven days after the presentation to the Speaker that he assents to the bill or that he refuses to assent to the bill, unless the bill has been referred by the President to the Council of State under article 90 of [the] Constitution.” Within 7 days, the President informs the Speaker of Parliament of his assent, refusal, or referral of the bill.

If the President assents, the bill becomes law. The new law is published in the
Gazette and enters into force.

If the President refuses to assent to the bill, according to Article 106, clause (8)
(a), he must “within fourteen days after the refusal, state in a memorandum
to the Speaker any specific provisions of the bill which in his opinion should be
reconsidered by parliament, including his recommendations for amendments
if any.”

In accordance with clause (9) of the same article, parliament reviews the bill considering the President’s comments. Subsequently, parliament votes for or against passing the resolution.

According to Article 106, clause (10), “where a bill reconsidered under clause (9) of this Article is passed by parliament by a resolution supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the Members of Parliament, the President shall assent to it within thirty days after passing the resolution.” Because the President does not have the power to refuse or refer the bill at this point, the bill becomes law with the President’s obligatory assent.

Within Presidential powers, referral to the Council of State exists as a measure
to assent or refuse. The Council of State is a “small body of prominent citizens of proven character [that] advises the President on national issues.”

According to Article 106, clause (8), “the President [can refer] a bill to the Council of State for consideration and comment”. If the President refers a bill to the Council of State, consideration of the bill must be done 30 days after the Third Reading of Parliament. This rule stands under all circumstances, except if the bill is introduced under a Certificate of Urgency.

When a bill is introduced under a Certificate of Urgency, the Council of State has 72 hours to consider and to make subsequent recommendations. If the Council of State does not propose any amendments, the chairman must send a Certificate of the Council’s decision to the President within 7 days. If the Council decides to include proposed amendments, the chairman must send a memorandum of the proposed amendments to the President within 15 days after the Council’s decision.

Upon receipt of the certificate or memorandum, parliament considers the comments and recommendations of the Council and casts a vote. A two-thirds vote passes the resolution. The bill is then sent for the President’s assent. When the bill receives assent, it becomes law and is published in the Gazette.

The Gazette is, therefore, a source for locating bills or proposed legislation in Ghana. Some special situations exist where the mode of legislative exercise differs. “Parliament shall not, unless the bill is introduced or the motion is introduced by, or on behalf of, the President –

(a) proceed upon a bill including an amendment to a bill, that, in the opinion
of the person presiding, makes provision for any of the following-
(i) the imposition of taxation or the alteration of taxation otherwise than by
reduction; or (ii) the imposition of a charge on the Consolidated Fund or other public funds of Ghana or the alteration of any such charge otherwise than by
reduction; or (iii) the payment, issue, or withdrawal from the Consolidated Fund or other public funds of Ghana of any moneys not charged on the Consolidated Fund or any increase in the amount of that payment, issue, or withdrawal; or (iv) the composition or remission of any debt due to the Government of Ghana.”

This is the provision regarding ‘Money bills’. Bills concerning the settlement
of Ghanaian financial affairs automatically have the assent of the President,
because they are introduced by or on behalf of him.

If a Committee of Parliament decides that a bill is very urgent, all that is required is an explanatory memorandum and the bill is presented directly to the President for assent. A bill introduced into parliament by or on behalf of the President must be dealt with within 3 months.

Parliament cannot make laws for the purpose of changing a decision or
judgment of a court, or to impose burden, obligation, or liability: “Parliament shall have no power to pass any law –
(a) to alter the decision or judgement of any court as between the parties subject to that decision or judgement; or (b) which operates retrospectively to impose any limitations on, or to adversely affect the personal rights and liberties of any person or to impose a burden, obligation, or liability on any person except in the case of a law enacted under articles 178 or 182 of this
Constitution.” bills concerning the settlement of financial affairs must be presented to parliament by or on behalf of the President. bills concerning the settlement of financial affairs include: the imposition of or increase of taxes; the imposition of or increase of charges on the Consolidated Fund or any other
public fund; the payment, issue, or withdrawal of money from public funds,
including the Consolidated Fund; and the composition or remission of any debt due to the Government of Ghana.

Read Also >>>> THE ROLE OF THE SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT OF GHANA

Parliament may regulate any professional, trade, or business organisation and make sure the affairs of these organisations are along democratic lines.

Read Also >>>  >>> HISTORY AND COMPOSITION OF THE PARLIAMENT OF GHANA

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