Prof. Mike Oquaye defends payment of ex gratia; says MPs sacrificed their jobs to represent constituents

Former Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament and immediate past Member of Parliament for Dome-Kwabenya constituency, Prof Mike Oquaye has strongly defended the payment of ex-gratia to parliamentarians at the end of their four year term. He insisted that being a legislator was a contract, not a long term job offer.

Government has released a total of Ghc63.25 million (Ghc 630 billion old cedis) to cover the ex-gratia of MPs who served in the four year term of the Mills administration from January 6, 2009 to January 6, 2013.

Each of the 230 MPs will receive at least Ghc276,000 (Ghc2.6 billion old cedis), a fact which has sparked outrage among ordinary Ghanaians angered striking teachers and other members of the labour front whose demands for the payment of outstanding emoluments have either been ignored or the payments spread over a three month period.

According to a Daily Graphic report, MPs who retained their seats in the December 2012 elections received Ghc276,000 each while those who lost their seats were paid Ghc311,000 each. According to parliamentary sources, the amount paid to the MPs who were no longer in Parliament included a resettlement grant.

More than 90 MPs who served in the Fifth Parliament are not members of the present Parliament.

Speaking on Adom FM’s Dwaso Nsem morning show on Friday April 5, 2013 Prof Oquaye, while calling for a debate on the quantum of money paid as ex-gratia, however argued that many persons who lost their parliamentary seats have seen their careers come to an end because they chose to take up the contract of a legislator.

The former Energy Minister in the Kufuor administration said unlike a long term job, being an MP was a short term contract, renewable at the whim of the electorate, and therefore attracted higher compensation due to the risk involved.

Prof Oquaye acknowledged the concerns of a section of Ghanaians who have expressed displeasure at the quantum of payments, but urged that the issue is discussed dispassionately and holistically, pointing out that other Article 71 office holders – whose salaries and emoluments are determined by committees set up by the President – had received their ex-gratia.