Felix Kwakye Ofosu, a Deputy Minister designate of the Ministry of Information and Media Relations, has blamed the media for bloating the facts regarding the payment of ex-gratia and some emoluments to Members of Parliament.
He chided media practitioners in the country for not scrutinizing the facts carefully before making a fuss about the issue.
According to him, Parliamentarians are not receiving the ex-gratia as a token of appreciation but rather the constitution mandates government to make some payments to them upon the recommendations of a Committee set up by the President.
He explained that the recent payments of monies to the Members of the Legislative body were not only to settle their ex-gratia; the payments also captured their sitting allowances, car loans and other debts the MPs owe since 2009.
He also noted that the MPs have since the year specified not received full payment of their salaries, for which the government doled out some monies to them adding up to GH¢47 million.
The government’s approval of billions of cedis as ex-gratia to Parliamentarians in the country has not only stirred passions but also left the general public to raise concerns about the seemingly unfair treatment meted out to other public sector workers when issues concerning their salaries and allowances are broached.
Government is reported to have settled all 230 Members of Parliament who served in the fifth Parliament of the Fourth Republic, therefore paying over 600000 cedis to those lost their seats after the December 7 general elections and others who retained their seats.
Following these revelations, doctors have embarked on a strike action which takes effect from today to register their protest against the government for not paying attention to their demands.
Also, the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) is gearing up to toll the same line with the medical doctors as they have also demanded payment of their 2012 market premium arrears.
Although government says it will remit the arrears in three instalments, the University lecturers seem dissatisfied with the news and are holding discussions to determine their next line of action.
The NDC Communicator speaking on Radio Gold’s newspaper review on Monday held the media responsible for the salvos shot at the government after honouring the pleas of the MPs.
“I think that the media unfortunately or sections of the media did not help matters when they rushed without due recourse to the appropriate authorities in Parliament. They rushed to the public gallery to say that government had paid huge sums of monies to members of Parliament. They should have taken their time, investigated the issue, have a full understanding of the facts and the figures involved before going to the members of the public. So, if there’s confusion, it is confusion that has been created by sections of the media for reasons best known to them.”
“Government has not in any way contributed to this confusion because government is not engaged in the practice of disclosing the salaries paid to all categories of public sector workers.” he said.
Meanwhile, the House has released a statement explaining the payment schedule.
It stated that “The payments also included salary arrears and other statutory payments. Parliament wishes to further state that although these payments have been due as far back as 2009, they were never paid in bulk. They payments were received in four tranches; the first instalment being in November, 2012.”