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General News of Saturday, 26 January 2013

Source: The Herald

11 NPP MPs Grab ¢5.5billion Rent Cash

Despite Boycotting Parliamentary Vetting Of Ministers

It is increasingly becoming clear that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Members of Parliament (MP), led by Minority Leader Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, are only interested in their personal welfare but not the collective interest of the people of Ghana, who opted for the democratic system of governance which saw them becoming parliamentarians.

“The Herald’s” information from Parliament is that days before the NPP parliamentarians took the unpopular decision to boycott parliamentary activities especially the ongoing vetting of ministers-designate, they had been part of 273 MPs who were paid a whopping GH¢50,000 (¢500 million) each as rent allowances.

The Ministerial Vetting started yesterday, without the presence of Osei Kyei Mensa-Bonsu, Dominic B.A Nitiwul, Atta Akyea, Stephen Nana Ato Arthur, Gift Klenam, Joseph Osei-Owusu, Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh, Daniel Nii Titus-Glover, Kwasi Ameyaw Kyeremeh, Robert N.D. Mosore and Ursula Owusu, after grabbing a total of GH¢550,000 (¢5.5 billion).

The 11 NPP MPs, interestingly, decided to heed to an order by their party’s National Chairman, Jake Obetsebi-Lapmtey not to perform their parliamentary responsibilities until the Supreme Court decided whether or not President John Dramani Mahama, won the 2012 elections fairly.

The MPs have been in Parliament for less than a month, and the government had to find the money for them to pay their rents, against the backdrop of the other competing demands on national purse, like unpaid salaries teachers, nurses, doctors and other workers of the state.

Also being processed currently in Parliament, is MPs GH¢7,600 (¢76 million) monthly salaries, and The Herald is informed that by the close of next week, the MPs, including the 122 Minority MPs who have abandoned their legislative work will be smiling to their respective banks to withdraw their salaries despite the public anger that has greeted the decision.

This paper’s information is that the MPs even those who have lived in and owned private mansions in Accra, were all paid the mouthwatering rent allowances sometime, last week.

The lavish rent allowances paid by Parliament became possible following a decision by the House not to provide accommodation for the MPs but rather the various supporting staff of the House.

The boycott of the vetting process by the NPP has widely been condemned by Ghanaians and some civil society organization including the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), asking the NPP leadership to rescind its decision not to participate in vetting of ministerial nominees.

The lawyers body in a statement “respectfully call on the leadership of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Parliament to reconsider its resolve not to participate in the vetting of persons nominated as Ministers by His Excellency John Dramani Mahama for approval by Parliament”.

The statement was signed by the GBA National President, Nene Amegatcher and its National Secretary, Justin Agbeli Amenuvor. It was issued last Wednesday, January 23, 2013.

It said: “…since the Constitution recognizes the legitimacy of John Dramani Mahama as President pending any decision of the Supreme Court to the contrary and also recognizes the right to challenge the election of the President, the GBA in consideration of our collective commitment to constitutional rule hereby calls on the NPP leadership in Parliament to review its decision and to participate in the vetting of the President’s ministerial nominees.

“The GBA would like to draw the attention of the NPP leadership in Parliament to the 1992 Constitution which has made provision for the Challenge of the election of a President in Article 64. Some individuals in the NPP have already taken advantage of that Constitutional provision”, it said.

The NPP MPs were reminded of Article 64(2) which further states that “a declaration by the Supreme Court that the election of a President is not valid shall be without prejudice to anything done by the person elected as President before that declaration by the Supreme Court”.

What is interesting is that after the boycott was announced by the Minority MPs, on Wednesday, sneaked into a meeting, to discuss the guidelines for the vetting process.

The Deputy Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Alfred Agbesi revealed that the Minority members were present at the Committee meeting held on Wednesday and participated fully in the proceedings.

But sources in the House, have said that that the attendance of that meeting by the Minority was opportunistic and unpatriotically-intended, just to collect sitting allowance pegged at GH¢2,000 (¢20 million) for the day but not to perform their parliamentary duties.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minority leader and Deputy ranking member on the Appointments Committee Dominic Nitiwul, has said that “We have not boycotted the committee and as long as the committee is not meeting to vet ministers of state, the Minority will always be present and that was why we were present on Wednesday.”

Mr. Nitiwul also dismissed reports of public outrage against the Minority’s decision to boycott the vetting process on Thursday by saying the only responses the party has received are only positive ones

“From reports we have received even before we made that decision until now was very positive but if there is public anger, then I can say that there is no decision taken that everyone agrees to so we are going to try and explain it to them,” he said.

The MPs will soon be given huge loans to buy luxurious cars to ride also at the expense of the poor Ghanaian taxpayer.

Earlier, a pro-NPP pressure group, Alliance For Accountable Governance (AFAG) and one of the leading members of the party, Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby have condemned the Minority’s decision to boycott the Vetting of the Ministerial nominees.

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