Members of Parliament (MPs) have expressed dissatisfaction with the fact they have to secure loans to buy cars for their official duties and pay from their pockets. This, the law makers argue, is unfair to them considering that other government officials are given cars to work with.
MP for Asawase, Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, who raised the issue during the vetting of Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu as Minister-designate for Parliamentary Affairs, noted that the situation affects their welfare and remains a challenge that needs to be addressed.
“We have over the years worked so hard on getting the Executive to understand the legislative arm of government is disadvantaged – because if you look at even DCEs, their number used to be 90, 110 and now they are 266 – only about 9 short of MPs, but they do not have to buy cars to work in their offices. The state is able to provide, maintain, fuel and chauffeur-drive them; yet in the case of a Member of Parliament, he has to go through all these difficulties,” he lamented.
“I hope that as you get the opportunity for the second time to be the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, you will continue to press home the issue so we can overcome it,” he told the nominee.
In response, Mr. Mensah-Bonsu – who is also MP for Suame and Leader of the Majority Group in Parliament, acknowledged the challenge posed by the matter to efficient work from Members of Parliament – stressing there are other challenges which also require attention to enhance their performance.
“What we need to do to enhance the performance of Members of Parliament is not only in respect of vehicles, but also the procurement of official residences, provision of security for Members of Parliament. Then also, the fourth issue relates to a pension scheme for members, so that at least your mind is liberated to concentrate on your functions as a Member of Parliament,” the Majority Leader stated.
In an interview with the B&FT, MP for Tamale Central, Murtala Muhammed Ibrahim, indicated that the vehicles given them are not a luxury and free as most Ghanaians think, but rather a necessity to facilitate their duties and responsibilities as members of the Legislature; and the fact that they have to pay from the own pockets is unfair.
“In our case, we have been elected to represent people in Parliament, and these vehicles are not given to us for fun; they are given to aid us in the discharge of our duties and responsibilities. Consider those of us who are from a far place – you need about a nine-hour drive to go to Tamale, for example; and if you use public transport, sometimes they use more than 12 hours. Look at those who are from Bawku, those who are from Bolga. So, these vehicles are to aid you for your easy transportation and movement.
“In the 6th Parliament, I represented a rural constituency; and if you have proper understanding of how the Nanton Constituency is, you will see that the Land Cruiser was not a luxury but a necessity – and this is applicable to most of our colleagues.
“But here’s the case – we have to buy them with our own money because a loan is given you to buy, which you are supposed to pay by the time you end your tenure as a Member of Parliament for the four years. It is simply not fair, and I think it is a good call for government to look into providing those vehicles for Members of Parliament.”