Former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Nii Ayikwei Otoo has accused Ghana’s 275 MPs of “indirectly upping their salaries” by approving a budget of Gh¢34,000 to each member to monitor projects in their constituencies.
“If you start taking on these things [monies], you are now going more into the development areas, shifting focus from your primary role of legislating”, the former NPP parliamentary candidate for Krowor constituency said.
The allocation of 34,244,118 million cedis to Members of Parliament to enable them monitor projects in their districts has generated public concern that the legislative body is losing focus.
Although none of Ghana’s 275 MP has been paid yet, the 2014 budget has made provision for the monies with Gh¢ 34,000 to be dished out to each MP.
Defending the allocation, North Dayi MP George Loh said “MPs are supervisors of projects in their constituencies, in the sense that we are supervisors of the national purse, and if this money is going into our district who is a better person to ensure that the money is being used for the projects?”
But in a rebuttal veiled as a joke, Ayikoi Ottoo said whether the money is paid into the MPs personal account or paid into the District Assembly, the MPs will ultimately be using the money.
This, he said translates into an enhanced enumeration package.
“That is what the people are saying”,Nii Ayikoi Otoo stated on Newsfile Saturday, on Joy News channel on Multi TV and broadcast on Joy FM.
He explained, MPs put pressure on themselves to deliver development such as infrastructure because “they go about promising to do” them when their real role in parliament was to pass laws.
Managing Editor of the New Crusading Guide newspaper Kweku Baako Jnr, also urged MPs to focus on the considerable work in Parliament and ditch the “extra burden” of monitoring District assembly projects.
According to him, no compelling argument has been made to justify MPs going about in their districts when huge parliamentary work through its committee system lies unheeded to.
But Baako, a discussant on Joy FM’s Newsfile, is unimpressed.
“MPs, don’t they have too much doing? We have about 16 select committees…look, here is so much work for committees of parliament to do…why are we stretching them to the District level”, the veteran journalist said.
He pointed out the “critical” function of Committee on Government Assurances which is supposed to “pursue all assurances, promises, undertakings given by ministers from time to time… report to the house the extent to which the assurances are fulfilled”.
He recommended that funding should be channeled into equipping the committees to do parliamentary work.
The committee system of parliament is yet to be fully effective, Baako assessed. “Let them focus and make them work the way they should work”, he said.