Member of Parliament for Dormaa central, Kwaku Agyemang Manu, who also doubles as chairman of the Public’s Account Committee insists that MPs cannot let go of their ex-gratia as it is the means through which they can offset some expenditures that come with their job.
Speaking on Multitv’s political talk show, Joint Caucus, he argued that MPs are not those earning top salaries paid from the state’s coffers as perceived by Ghanaians; adding that they deserve some level of decent salaries.
Kwaku Agyemang Manu lamented that Ghanaians do not understand and appreciate that they are not well paid for the kind of work they do and the huge expenditure it comes with- reason the ex-gratia is of maximum importance.
”Campaigns cost us huge amounts, l spend close to 2.94 billion Cedis on my campaign and it is same with my colleagues on the general elections; not to talk of the primaries that some have to go through two to three times. Our job is very expensive, the risk profile, the expenditure etc. We use our entitlements for some of these things and that is huge”.
He added that the job of MPs is contractual and hence all MPs take the same salaries irrespective of the number of years one has been in parliament. So if there are any arrears in salaries and allowances they are calculated and ploughed back for them.
”When an MP loses his seat, it is difficult to secure a job because of his or her political branding, so they have nothing to feed on except for the ex-gratia package. Some of us have red accounts, rent and salary arrears, committee allowances that were never paid for 4 years. Add all that to the ex -gratia and nothing is left”.
The chairman of the public accounts committee also attributed the agitations on the labour front to mismanagement of the state’s coffers and not the entitlements of MPs.
”we are worried about the way our coffers are so exhausted, we have used 15 million Cedis for guinea fowl project, we have overspent our budget. We targeted 6.7 budget deficit and ended up with 12 percent, so if there is no money in the consolidated account what has that got to do with our ex-gratia? MPs are not to be blamed for the agitations on the labour front”.
Minister of state at the Presidency, Rashid Pelpuo reacting on the show, argued that government had done no wrong blaming Ghanaians especially formal sector workers for the current crisis.
” The majority of Ghanaians who insisted that fuel subsidies are not removed, the public servants who insisted on salary increments applying the single spine policy among others are to be blame for all this. We have been overspending on our salary package and yet the beneficiaries are the same people complaining. Government cannot overspend to pay them more again”
Rashid Pelpuo also agreed that MPs must receive their accumulated salary arrears not completely ex -gratia.
”l agree that we are all public servants but doctors, pharmacists and teachers must not be compared to us. They are not paid the same as four years ago especially after being migrated to the single spine salary payment structure. We MPs have been marking time”.