Nice Talk-Act NOW!

Tue, 28 Dec 2010 Source: Yeboah, Ernesto

From now onwards, let us think as men of action and act as men of thought—Osaagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah

The call by the minority in Parliament, specifically, the CPP and PNC, that ex-gratia be scrapped has caught overwhelming flames across the length and breadth of the country. Ghana is deeply encouraged by the exercise of conscience by these parliamentarians. But before they are taken seriously, Ghanaians expect that they go further to reject any money and other emoluments to be given to them as ex gratia. This would to a large extent expand their credibility and make them outright leaders of the inevitable revolution gravitating towards the ruling elites of this country.

With the rapidity of a pole being eaten by termites, confidence is fast waning in our leaders as their motive for entering politics appears to be looting-inspired rather than voluntary service as they choose to purport. “They are thieves!” One market woman uttered indignantly on a radio voice pop; and this is not different from the general thought of the masses. As we speak, Members of Parliament are taking not less than 26 million old cedis a month. Let us ask ourselves how many people make this much in a month. Aside the fifty thousand dollars all 250 parliamentarians take as car loans, they receive what they call the MP’s common fund; monies set aside for developmental projects in their constituencies. Factually, most of them confuse this particular fund with their private accounts, given the visible absence of development in most constituencies since such MP’s took over.

The President makes more and is expected to retire on his salary. All Presidential aides, Ministers and deputies, Members of Parliament and DCE’s are entitled under the scheme of things through article 71 of the Constitution. The Chinery Hesse Committee after its work proposed that the retiring President is given a whooping sum of 460,000 Ghana Cedis; two residential facilities, one in Accra and another anywhere else; six fully insured vehicles to be replaced every 4 years; these include, three saloon cars, two cross country vehicles and one all-purpose vehicle. The ex President is also entitled to overseas travels, medical and dental services, entertainment, (aside the financial burden, the question is why overseas?). Finally, he or she is entitled to a non-taxable one million dollars to set up a foundation.

The Ishmael Yamson Committee on the other hand proposed that four vehicles with drivers, all fully maintained, insured and fuelled by the state be given to the ex-President; he or she is also entitled to one fully furnished house with amenities; he is to receive housing allowance with office accommodation, domestic support services and paid utility bills; these include, water, electricity and telephone.

While in office, a President enjoys all these privileges, he pays no income tax, consider this against the poor tax-payer-the market woman, the teacher or the civil servant who spend all his working life paying taxes to finance the opulent life styles of the ruling elite. Yet, after working so hard over the years, sometimes 36 to 40 years of their lives, taking their own pensions become an issue they beg over -- just go to the banks and see how pensioners are treated. What kind of country is this?

Making matters worse, some members of NPP and NDC have furiously condemned the stance taken by the PNC and CPP in Parliament, describing it as populist. This whole ex-gratia idea is immoral. And if this is how the NPP and the NDC are prepared to take it, then we as voters would also vote for the PNC and CPP who have shown so far to be diametrically opposed to that parasitic system! Indeed, I couldn’t have agreed with Samia Nkrumah better when she said, “Politics is a voluntary service to the nation for which Ghanaians need not pay for the comfort of politicians on their retirement.” Should we have 20 of such politicians I believe Ghana would be a better place for us all.

Ernesto Yeboah Lead Advocate, President @ 18 Campaigns ernestoyeboah@yahoo.com December 25, 2010

Columnist: Yeboah, Ernesto