Parliament has approved the $28 million car loan presented by the Finance Ministry to facilitate the purchase of 275 vehicles for members of the eighth Parliament.
This is in spite of massive backlash from the public after the Deputy Finance Minister, Abena Osei Asare laid a document on the floor of Parliament requesting approval for the loan facility from the National Investment Bank to purchase the vehicles.
Parliament also approved a report of the Finance Committee that called for the discontinuation of the car loan facility for Members of Parliament and the Council of State.
According to the report, subsequent governments must provide official vehicles for Members of Parliament and Council of State members for use as enjoyed by other Article 71 officeholders.
Speaking on the floor of the House, during the loan approval, Kwaku Kwarteng, who chairs the Finance Committee, said this new arrangement will stop the “vilification” of Parliament and its members every four years.
He stated that the Committee took notice of the concerns by a section of Ghanaians about the loan facility and its effect on the public purse.
“These legitimate concerns are fueled by the fact that, of all the Article 71 officeholders, it is only Members of Parliament and Members of the Council of State who benefit from these vehicle loans, a large part of which are re-paid by the state.”
“We have a responsibility to reflect the values and ideals of the people we represent. Accordingly, the Committee strongly recommends to Parliament the discontinuation of the current vehicle loan arrangement for MPs and Council of State Members,” he said.
Mr Kwarteng stated that the Committee recommended that Members of Parliament and Members of the Council of State should have similar duty post vehicle arrangements as other Article 71 office holders.
Meanwhile, Ranking Member on Parliament’s Finance Committee, Cassiel Ato Forson, also supported the call for MPs to have duty post vehicles. He added that the House is subjected to ridicule every four years because of the loan arrangement.
Speaking in Parliament, he said “oftentimes the facilities and privileges offered to Parliament are taken as if Parliament is actually benefiting more than anyone other than all those people being covered under Article 71.”
“If for instance, the Chairman of the Lands Commission, the National Commission of Civic Education, the Public Services Commission, Ministers and Deputy Ministers of state, the National Commission for Higher Education, the Universities are entitled for duty post [vehicles] how on earth is it that Members of Parliament are denied the opportunity of the state providing us duty post vehicles?” he asked.
Dr Forson stated that it needs to be communicated to the public that Members of Parliament servicing a loan for the procurement of a vehicle, is a favour to the state.
He stated that “the time has come to have duty post vehicles” so they could conduct their official duties, adding that the vehicles can be made available to the state after MPs leave office.
Meanwhile, Alhassan Suhuyini, the MP for Tamale North believes the push for the new arrangement beginning with the next Parliament, whereby MPs will be given duty post cars instead of loans to buy cars, will overburden the public purse
He stated that the government will now have the full responsibility of purchasing the vehicles, fueling, maintaining and insuring them, adding that will cost the country more.
“Our (MPs) sentimental reaction to the very reasonable sentimental condemnation from the people is not a sign of leadership,” he said.
Listen to the audio below for more: