My letter to my brothers of the inky fraternity re: MPs car loan and matters arising

Parliament House 2021 Parliament of Ghana

Sat, 10 Jul 2021 Source: Kakraba Pratt

My dear brother, I wish I could speak to you but I know you are a busy man. So don’t worry. I will try using my fingers. MPs are fudging the debate on their car loan. And most journalists are letting them get away without asking the right questions. I agree that this practice has been going on for 28 years so there is a precedent for it. But must we allow it to continue if it’s a bad practice? Dr. Okoe Boye, former MP for Ledzekuku and former Deputy Minister of Health, made a slip-on GBC TV this morning when he indicated that parliament started deducting 4,500 nights a month from MPs salary right from January to cover the car loan. That amounts to 216,000 ghs for 4 years. ( which is the employment period of an MP) the loan is 100,000 US dollars. ( amounting conservatively to 500,000 ghs) This does not cover.

Even the whole MP’s salary for 4 years may not cover the loan plus interest assuming all they use their salary for is to pay the loan and not eat or buy fuel for the said cars, and without paying insurance or pay for car wash. Who pays the rest? And who pays the interest on the loan? One more question and i won’t bother you further on this matter. The MPs are leaders of this country who must show good leadership in all things, including the maintenance their cars.

Giving that this is done every 4 years and for all MPs ( not only new entrants) are we saying that MPs are so irresponsible that they are incapable of maintaining and looking after the cars so that every 4 years, but the cars are also so bad that it needs replacing? Does an MP who believes he needs a new car not have the clout and acumen to take his payslip to a bank and negotiate a loan that he can reasonably afford? The MP needs assistance and resources to reach his constituents. I agree. But being an MP is voluntary and national service and most come into this job knowing exactly what we as taxpayers offer. MPs should become tools for advancement and social emancipation and societal forward March. NOT A BURDEN.

MPs before an election are able to reach every nook and cranny of their constituency by any means possible including Okada and walking to campaign to win an election. So what is it with MPs that as soon as he or she wins that election and becomes an MP, they cannot reach their constituents or go to their constituency unless the taxpayer buys him a brand new V8? I lived in a country where MPs go to work in parliament and meet their constituents by train, bus, bicycle and walk. And yet are more effective than those we give V8 to. You see them holding the executive to proper account. They spend nights scrutinising bills and government transactions. You don’t see them approving every loan presented in parliament, most of them resulting in judgement debts and terminated contracts. Did our MPs with V8 not approve the Agyapa deal in parliament? Is it not the same MPs with their V8 that passed a very bad and unworkable emergency powers for the president of Ghana to control Covid, which even he himself cannot obey? What is wrong with the very same MPs who think that they deserve additional security with policemen but insist that Ghana is safe for the ordinary Joe to walkabout? Do we intend to breed democratic monsters with our fourth republican experiment? Our MPs must be careful less they breed apathy into our election system because people are fast coming to the decision that it does not matter whether it is NDC or NPP in power, the electorate will still lose. Should we conclude that when it comes to the public purse, both sides will collude to unzip the purse without due care and attention?

Should we put this greed and bizarre precedence out at this time, we have Covid and related expenditure with people losing jobs and businesses. Then all these judgment debts of millions that some of them are culpable in causing plus the recent unrest’s and killings with policemen not having decent protective garments. Are our MPs ( and interestingly on this occasion) from both sides justifying what my grandmother describes as “clever theft” is this right? - K. Kakraba Pratt

Columnist: Kakraba Pratt