MPs are in serious debt – Rashid Pelpuo

The Wa Central Member of Parliament, Rashid Pelpuo has disclosed that majority of MPs are in serious debt.

The MP who was on Metro TV’s Good Morning Ghana, Friday, bemoaned the situation where MPs find themselves under intense pressure to satisfy numerous demands on them from their constituents.

“MP’s pay their drivers, maids, rent, buy [their] own fuel and manage your constituency. Ask them how many did not have to borrow money to manage their constituency? Before the end of the month they are broke”.

Mr. Rashid Pelpuo, who is also Minister of State in charge of Private-Public Partnerships at the Presidency, was reacting to the reported 47 million Ghana Cedis ex-gratia package that has been paid to MPs.

He explained that the purported GHC 276,000 paid to MPs included other payments apart from ex-gratia such as unpaid induction allowance.

The induction allowance is given to MPs for being “uprooted” from their various occupations to relocate to Accra. This allowance he explained has been unpaid since 2009.

He further explained that committee allowances had been in arrears over the last four years.

“We have suffered waiting for late President Mills to approve payments but the late President said the timing was not right as there were labour unrest” he emphasised.

President Mahama also delayed payments and asked for the amount to be reviewed. But parliament rejected calls for the review.

He explained that MPs contended that the timing would never be right because “there will be no end to labour agitations”.

“All (MPs) were up in arms; our cars could not move [because we couldn’t fuel them], we are in debt, and the pressure (to pay) was mounting especially within Parliament. Whenever the [then[ Finance Minister came to Parliament, he was pressurized to pay”.

His co-panelist on the Show, former MP for Okaikwoi South on the Show, Nana Akomea, added that the MPs have not been on a fix salary because President Mills on assumption of Office in January 2009, had set side the 2008 Chinery- Hesse recommendations.

The Chinery-Hesse Committee was set up in 2004 by the Kufuor Administration to review, determine and make recommendations on Emoluments for Article 71 Office Holders which include Members of Parliament.

Subsequently, MP’s have been on allowance of GHC 2000 which was further increased to GHC 3000. This was finally settled when the Presidential Committee on Emoluments, [Ewurama Addy Committee] established by the Mills Administration in 2010,pegged MPs salary at GHC 7000.

The Minister argued that payments to persons under Article 71 office holders are among the lowest in the African sub-region. MPs in Uganda are paid $6000. Kenyan President is paid $12000 despite the fact that “we are bigger than these countries”.

He defended the payments as constitutional and wondered why “nobody said anything (about benefits for Article 71 office holders) when the constitutional review was going around” to take public inputs.

Rashid Pelpuo used the occasion to call for a referendum on the Article 71 office holders