North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has called on other Members of Parliament to advocate for the discontinuation of the purchase of vehicles for MPs through government loans.
This follows massive backlash from the public after the Deputy Finance Minister, Abena Osei Asare laid a document on the floor of Parliament requesting approval of a $28 million loan facility from the National Investment Bank for the initiative.
In a post on Facebook, Mr Ablakwa said that MPs who need car loans should be allowed to procure their own vehicles through private loan arrangements.
He wrote, “I honestly hope many colleague MPs will agree with me so we join forces and get Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta to withdraw his MPs’ car loan agreement from Parliament. As MPs, let us also boldly confront and discontinue the practice of government loans to purchase vehicles for MPs.
“If the executive branch of government does not have the resources to provide duty vehicles for MPs as it does for MMDCEs, CEOs of State Institutions/SOEs, Ministers, Judges, Civil Servants, Security Services, and so on and so forth, then MPs who need car loans should be allowed to make their own private car loan arrangements with the banks just as most private-sector workers do.”
Mr Ablakwa explained that MPs securing their own loans will require that government stops the monthly deductions of MPs’ salaries to pay the $28 million loan.
He stated that MPs will then be free to broker individual car loan deals based on their salary structure, constituency terrain and other personal preferences.
The North Tongu MP wrote, “MPs have been deliberately thrown under the bus and subjected to needless opprobrium one too many.”
The Finance Ministry, on July 7, presented to Parliament a request by the government for a $28 million loan from the National Investment Bank, to finance the purchase of 275 vehicles for the members of the eighth Parliament.
This request received a lot of backlash from the general public with many stating that the government did not have to procure a loan facility for MPs while citizens are going through one hardship or another.
Following the backlash, MP for South Dayi Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor revealed that some MPs go to Parliament in Uber rides which is worrying and unsafe.
Arguing in favour of the agreement, the legislator insisted that MPs deserve better than the $28 million car loan being given to them to purchase vehicles; and should rather be given official cars like members of the Executive and Legislature.
Also, the Public Affairs Directorate of Parliament released a press statement, stating that concerns being raised by the public as to whether the lawmakers are deserving of the facility given the state of the economy is flawed and unfair.
This, the statement said, is because the loan being procured is not free and won’t be paid from the pockets of citizens but is part of the MPs’ conditions of service which is payable during their tenure.
Meanwhile, a document sighted by JoyNews showed that the State will bear 60% of the principal sum and all the interest that will accrue on the loan, while MPs will pay the remaining 40%. Per the arrangement, the state will absorb $373,333.33 representing 60% while an amount of $248,888.89 representing 40% will be paid by MPs.
Per the agreement, if approved by Parliament each of the 275 MPs and each of the 31-member council of state members will receive about $100,000 for the purchase of a vehicle.
However, Keta MP, Kwame Gakpey, said that the government absorbing 60% of the car loan being given to Members of the 8th Parliament places a burden on the MPs, contrary to popular opinion.
According to him, the government instead of absorbing part of the loan should have paid fully for the vehicles as well as absorbing the entire cost of maintenance, fueling, and drivers for the car.
However, following the backlash, Mr Ablakwa believes the political class should not “underestimate the people’s grave revulsion and its volcanic consequences on the stability and sustainability of our democracy.”
He urged MPs to support Speaker Alban Bagbin who has been advocating for a uniform duty vehicle policy in the public sphere which does not discriminate between Ministers, MMDCEs, CEOs, Judges and MPs.
“I strongly believe we can count on his support as we pursue this mission…Deep reflection is needed on just how long the political class can keep stoking the anger levels of the masses beyond boiling point?… Time to adopt a totally new and sincere paradigm.”
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