The Managing Editor of the Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr., is questioning the timing and prudence in the approval of billions of cedis as ex-gratia to Members of Parliament in the country who have duly served their term in the House.
Government is reported to have paid all 230 parliamentarians who served in the Fifth Parliament of the Fourth Republic their ex-gratia said to total GH¢47 million.
Speaking on Peace FM’s “Kokrokoo” Friday, the seasoned journalist condemned government for expediting the payment of the monies to Parliamentarians which could have been channeled to develop other sectors of the economy especially when the country is saddled with several challenges.
To him, the Parliamentarians are enriching themselves at the expense of the University lecturers and medical doctors who have threatened to embark on strike actions if government does not rectify the inconsistencies in their salary scheme.
Government’s approval of the MPs ex-gratia comes on the heels of the strike actions and threats to embark on other forms of industrial action by public servants.
Members of Parliament who retained their membership of the House after the December 7, 2012 elections received GH¢276,000 each, while those who lost their seats were paid GH¢311,000 each.
But Mr Pratt slammed the MPs for being insensitive to the plight of the ordinary Ghanaian by receiving such excessive amount of monies; considering the flamboyant lifestyles they live when elected to join the legislative body.
The newspaper editor also questioned the basis for government’s speedy approval of the payments yet choosing to pay up the accrued arrears of striking University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) members in installments.
“…if MPs ex-gratia can be dealt with that quickly by government, then it is equally appropriate for the teachers and doctors to also enjoy the same treatment,” he said.
Mr Pratt also expressed disgust at the “hand go, hand come” arrangement where the President constitutionally reviews the salaries and emoluments of Parliamentarians, whiles the MPs also replicate the gesture by approving the President’s emoluments, pointing out that should this same arrangement be extended to the teachers and doctors, the two professionals would see tremendous changes in their conditions of service.
“…This “scratch-my-back” arrangement is a major Constitutional flaw that must be checked,” he added.
Whiles calling on the government to be measured in its spending, Mr Pratt wondered why it has become a norm for the country’s former Presidents to be given a lump sum as benefits after ceding power to their successors.
“If somebody is retiring on his salary, why pay him any lump sum?…Every Head of State retires on his salary and yet we have to also pay them a lump sum as benefit…It is unfathomable,” he said.