Sun. Jan 17th, 2021

UTAG asks members to calm down as parliament suspends PUB

3 min read

All processes leading to the passage of the Public Universities Bills (PUB) has been suspended.

This follows a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) with the Vice-President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, on Wednesday, 16 December 2020.

In a statement issued by UTAG and co-signed by its National President, Prof Charles Marfo and its National Secretary, Dr Eric K.K. Abavare, the association of university lecturers stated that the meeting was held to “express our disgust with the rush in sending the bill to Parliament without completing the agreed stakeholder engagements”.

It continued: “At the meeting, the Vice-President, on behalf of the government of Ghana, upheld the directive of the Speaker of Parliament that the Parliamentary Select Committee of Education (PSCE) should carry out thorough stakeholder engagements and report to Parliament.”

UTAG noted: “Therefore, all processes leading to the passage of the bill has been halted for now.”

UTAG said it has been given “a copy of the revised version of the PUB for our study and consultation with our members”, adding: “NEC, therefore, calls on all members of UTAG to remain calm as the consultations go on and will like to assure them that anything contrary to this agreement will incur the displeasure of UTAG.”

Also present at the meeting were the Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah and the Chairman of the PSCE, Mr William Agyekum Quaitoo.

Mr Quaitoo confirmed the suspension of the consideration of the bill in an interview with the parliamentary press corps on Wednesday.

According to him, the chamber has suspended its consideration of the bill at the plenary stage pending the input of critical stakeholders such at the University Teachers Association among others, into the new bill which went through its second consideration on Tuesday, 15 December 2020.

“It is not true that the Public Universities Bill is passed”, he clarified, explaining: “Yesterday, what we did was a second reading of the bill and I state that the bill, as you know, went through a first presentation to parliament that was withdrawn and a new one laid and, so, once the new one is laid, of course, the Committee will have to consider it and bring a report to the plenary; so that is exactly what we did yesterday, so, the bill is still under consideration”.

The new bill, which has been laid and reported on, according to Mr Quaitoo, “is available for anybody to have a look at”.

“What UTAG and other stakeholders of academia want to do or are seeking to know, is: what is in the new one. That is what we have made available now. And, so, this morning, we met them – UTAG and other stakeholders – and gave copies of the new bill to them. In other words, the re-laid one to them.

“They are to study it and bring their comments for consideration and when we receive their comments, of course, during our second consideration of the committee, their comments that, of course, are acceptable, will be incorporated into the bill”, he said.

According to the lawmaker, “doing the second reading does not mean that we have passed the bill and we have all agreed to certain conditions that have to be fulfilled before the Public Universities Bill is passed”.

“To be precise”, Mr Quaitoo explained, “the national UTAG and the various universities, and maybe convocation and other key players in academia, were present at a meeting this morning and they have all received copies of the new bill and, so, if they go to consider it or they look at it and see that the first – in fact, we met them here some time ago – issues that they brought up, have been incorporated in this new bill and we all come to a common ground, then, of course, the bill will be passed”.

In his words, Parliament is working with the key stakeholders to finalise the bill.

“We are working in faith with them. We don’t want to pass any bill that those who are to be affected by the bill will have comments on”.

In view of the fact that Parliament is now awaiting the input of the universities, Mr Quaitoo announced that: “The consideration at the plenary is suspended; that is on hold until we receive their inputs on the new bill”.

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