Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako has backed the payment of end of service benefits to Members of Parliament, insisting that the legislators “need the ex gratia” to enable them make quality contribution towards the country’s democracy.
Mr. Baako said the nation has no luxurious alternative to people, some of whom may have abandoned their better paid jobs, to contribute to strengthening Ghana’s democracy. Such people he advocates, the State must go the extra mile to attract in order to promote democracy.
Government has paid about Gh¢ 47 million to all the 230 Members in the 5th Parliament of the Fourth Republic, as of January 7, 2013. Members who did not return to the House after the 2012 December 7 and 8 elections, took home Gh¢ 211,000, while those who retained their seats got between Gh¢ 270,000 and Gh¢ 275,000, depending on their status in the House.
The development has generated controversy with respect to ongoing labour agitations in the country over better conditions of service. This has received wide condemnation from sections of the public, with some describing the payment as ill-timed.
Speaking on News File programme on Joy News TV and Joy FM on Saturday, Kweku Baako noted the criteria concepts for the payment of the emoluments to the legislators, are common to reports by all three emoluments committees- the Chinery-Hesse, the Ishmael Yamson and the Prof. Awurama Addy Committees- that made the proposal, based on universal principles.
He called for the need for Ghanaians to detach emotions from the discussions and look at the issue dispassionately. “The MPs need the ex-gratia” and “we must give it to them”.
He believes the atmosphere within which the amount was paid to the MPs has whipped up emotions and clouded the real issues concerning the issue of ex-gratia.
“We have inflicted on the country uneducated, uninformed approaches” towards the issue of ex gratia and “now we are trapped”. “We’ve played political football with it so it’s become difficult.”