A Member of Parliament has vehemently defended his receipt of a 3,000 cedis protocol gift from the Public Utilities and Regulatory Commission (PURC) in 2013.
Adam Mutawakilu, does not understand why Muslim members on the Mines and Energy Committee will be hounded and demonized for receiving a harmless protocol gift for Ramadan when their Christian colleagues on the same committee have received similar gifts for Christmas.
He told Joy News’ Israel Laryea, Tuesday, the receipt of that cash will in no way influence their work as committee members who have oversight responsibility of the PURC.
He was responding to an investigative report by Joy News’ Kwetey Nartey which reveals how the PURC doled out cash, and hampers to MPs and journalists in 2013.
It emerged that the utility regulator paid a total of about GHȻ54,000 to MPs and groups of people it described as “key stakeholders”.
Documents sighted by Joy News indicate that the PURC paid GHȻ20,000 to five law makers.
In an internal memo dated July 23, 2013, the PURC released the money as what it calls “protocol cash” for Muslim MPs on the Parliamentary Select Committee on Mines and Energy to “bless them in the Ramadan period”.
“As religion demands whatever is given to them would be used for themselves and their constituents,” part of the memo reads.
Asawase MP, Muntaka Mubarak and Adam Mutawakilu, are listed among the five parliamentarians as a beneficiaries.
The PURC also gave out GHȻ34,000 to 25 parliamentarians and their clerks for a stakeholders’ consultation on natural gas transportation pricing.
Another document intercepted by Joy News, reveals that the PURC released GHȻ60,000 for the media and people it calls “key stakeholders” for the quarter automatic adjustment formula implementation process.
These payments have been condemned severally by individuals and civil society organisations.
But Adam Mutawakilu, sees nothing wrong with the payment. In fact he defended it and questioned why Muslim MPs should be criticised for taking a gift Christians have been taking for several years.
He said he had no problems with Christian MPs receiving similar gifts from the PURC or any other institutions Parliament supervises and certainly has no problems with the action by the Muslims.
“Out of 18 members of the Mines and Energy Committee, five were Moslems, there is no way the receipt of this cash will influence our work on the committee,” he suggested.
He said if there is any breach of law in their receipt of the gift, it should be pointed out to him.
But in a reaction, Rasheed Draman, Executive Director of the African Center for Parliamentary Affairs (ACEPA) has expressed shock over the utterances by the MP.
“There is no way you can do your work well if you receive gifts either for ramadan or christmas from the people you supervise,” he argued.
He said Parliament has had cause over the years to complain about some of these gifts MPs receive and the immediate past Speaker Edward Doe Adjaho attempted to do something about it.
“Doe Adjaho wanted to end that practice of MPs receiving gifts for facilitating work on committees,” he stated, adding, the PURC protocol gift is a “classic case” of monies that get MPs compromised.
He argued in developed democracies, there is a limit of the value of gifts MPs and other public officers can receive and suggested similar arrangements should be introduced in Ghana.