Parliament’s quest to make the House paperless is set to suffer a setback as Members are struggling to use the ‘Chinese’ tablet computers installed on their desks in the Chamber.
Majority of the members of Ghana’s Parliament clearly seemed handicapped in their ability to handle modern electronic gadgets as they fumbled helplessly on Tuesday in their attempt to access legislative materials which were installed in soft copies on the tablet for them.
The Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho while welcoming the MPs to the house after they resumed sittings on Tuesday from the Christmas and new year break, explained that the devices will enable Parliament to reduce the cost of printing parliamentary materials which usually takes a toll on their budget.
You will recall that at the end of the last meeting last year, I informed you that in order to make optimum use of the legislative software installed in the computer rooms on your respective tables which enables you access to parliamentary papers, the table office will from today produce and circulate only limited copies of the Order Paper and votes and proceedings of the house. This measure is aimed at reducing to the barest minimum the cost of stationery and printing items,” he added.
After his welcome address, the MP for Sekondi, Papa Owusu Ankomah, drew the attention of the speaker to the challenges they encountered in operating the gadgets.
I believe today being the first day, we are experiencing some challenges, I’ve tried and they say webpage is not available,” he said.
TV3’s Parliamentary correspondent Evelyn Tengmaa reported Tuesday that, as the speaker was correcting the votes and proceedings, members complained of difficulties following him.
She said some of the MPs suggested that Dr Akoto Osei and other leaders in the Chamber who had hard copies make them available to the MPs who were having difficulties in the use of the device.
Speaking on Eyewitness News, Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka, Majority Chief Whip of Parliament, admitted MPs clearly needed to be schooled on the usage of the devices to help the work of parliament. He was hopeful the gadgets will improve the work of the legislators.
Since the installation, I’ve been one of those who has been pushing for us to use these gadgets and I’m happy the speaker has accepted and is pursuing it vigorously.
Our expectation is that out of the 275, we should be able to get about 150 having to use it the first day…but believe me by the time we got to public business, I could say close to 80% of the members in the chamber were following easily from the tab in front of us.”
He said they will also train MPs who have no knowledge in using digital devices to enable them be at par with their colleagues.
From what happened today, I’m confident that if we followed strictly, maybe by the middle of the term, we will be able to add other documents like the official reports or committees report and other things because I can see that members are gradually picking up. We are working very closely to identify our colleagues who have genuine problems with the use of such gadgets and will help them pick up,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Speaker Doe Adjaho in his welcome address said a computer course should be organized for the MPs to help them use the tablet computers.
He said the Italian prime minister is also expected to address the Parliament next week.
The House is expected to sit for nine weeks during which 26 bills are expected to be tabled for presentation and consideration. The Business Committee will meet and schedule dates for various presentations. President John Dramani Mahama is also expected to give his State of the Nation Address in this current session.