General News of 2014-03-04

Kunbuor exposes ‘MP-Ministers’

Majority Leader and Minister in Charge of Government Business in Parliament Dr Benjamin Kunbuor has blamed greed for the rush with which most Members of Parliament (MPs) accept ministerial appointments.

He said aside being a constitutional flaw, MPs lobbying for ministerial positions or representation on boards of certain state institutions is borne out of material gain.

Dr Kunbuor, who is also the MP for Nandom Constituency, made these observations on Saturday, March 1 on TV3’s Hot Issues.

He revealed that the highest allowance MPs take for being a member of a board is GH¢1,000 “and you begin to find out how does that change your economic fortunes”.

He lamented the greed of MPs, especially the new ones who lobby to be part of the executive instead of taking time to learn parliamentary operations.

As a result, Dr Kunbuor observes, the opposition’s new MPs always learn parliamentary duties faster than their counterparts in the ruling party.

Dr Kunbuor disclosed that MPs, in lobbying for positions, have categorized boards into lucrative and non-lucrative ones.

“A governing board turns out to be a market place for [MPs] to shop,” he observed.

“That is why I have been telling people that when you look at corruption, and you look at malfeasance and things, if you have worked in a ministerial position with a lot of these institutions under you, you will come across very interesting things,” he confessed.

The former Attorney General and Minister of Justice further cited that when he was a Cabinet minister, he assigned his Deputy Minister and the Chief Director of his sector to most board meetings “so that you can at least sit back and when there is a crisis, you have a way of intervening.”

“But if you go and compromise in the decision of the board,” he concedes, “and it runs counter to policy and you are asked to implement the policy, you find yourself in an awkward situation.”

He said many ministers have compromised themselves in this, allowing the president to be inundated with issues that should have been solved at ministerial level.

“It is like when I hear executives or ministers being signatories to accounts and signing cheques. It is a practice that ought to be discouraged because you should be the final arbiter because if you put yourself in such a situation, it means after you, the matter has to go to the president.”

He noted that because he was quite strict, people called him names.

“Another person cracked a joke and said people like you why do you think anybody will send you to a particular ministry? You will go and be Konongo kaya. You will not chop, and you won’t allow anybody to chop. And these things can be worrying,” Dr Kunbuor lamented.

He said there is a proposal to create a constitutional fund to deal with the financial pressure put on MPs though he feared bureaucracy may hamper efforts.