Member of Parliament for Tamale Central Ibrahim Murtala Mohammed has described the position taken by his colleague lawmaker for North Tongu Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa regarding the car loan facility for legislators as hypocritical.
He accused Mr Ablakwa of lacking principles relative to this matter.
Ghana’s Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta submitted to parliament for approval a loan agreement of $28 million pending consideration by the Finance Committee.
This is for the purchase of 275 vehicles for members of the 8th Parliament.
This move has divided opinions among members of the Ghanaian public and also the legislators themselves on whether or not this is a good decision in the midst of the severe economic hardship Ghanaians are saddled with.
Okudzeto Ablakwa on Wednesday July 14 revealed that he and some of his colleague lawmakers from across the political divide had made progress in getting parliament to reject the 28million car loan facility for the legislators.
He stated that he and his colleague from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Patrick Boamah cosponsored a private member’s motion which the Rt. Hon. Speaker admitted for urgent debate this week.
“Glad we made major progress today in our efforts to have Parliament reject the US$28million MPs’ car loan facility.
“Really elated that my colleague NPP MP, Patrick Boamah and I cosponsored a private member’s motion which the Rt. Hon. Speaker admitted for urgent debate this week,” he said in a tweet.
Mr Boamah who is the Vice-Chairman of Parliament’s Finance Committee has said in an earlier interview that if he has his way, he will tell the legislators to reject the facility.
“For me, if I have my way I will tell my colleague MPs to reject that facility for the simple reason that all the other arms of government vehicles are procured for them without having to go through this process where the media is always on the back of MP s for contracting a loan.
“I don’t see the reason why we should be the subject for this public bashing,” he told journalists on Wednesday July 7.
Commenting on this development, Mr Murtala said “First and foremost, it is the height of hypocrisy and I have to say this about my brother. Okudzeto is not just a colleague Member of Parliament, myself and him we have come a very long way. He has taken the loan two times. I went to Parliament with him the same time when he took the car loan. In the Seventh Parliament I wasn’t there but he took the loan.
“So where is the principle in this? Since when did he realize that taking the car was unconscionable . Who is he trying to deceive?
“This is not a principle position,” he told Joy Prime Thursday July 15.
Meanwhile, Parliament’s Finance committee has recommended a discontinuation of the current loan facility for MPs and members of the Council of State.
This decision was reached after the Finance Committee met on Wednesday July 14 to deliberate on the Finance Minister’s $28 million car loan facility to purchase vehicles for the Members of Parliament.
The committee in its recommendations yet to be put before the house says the MPs and members of the Council of State should have duty post vehicle arrangements as other article 71 office holders.
The committee also recommended that parliament and the parliamentary service takes the necessary steps to ensure that this happens.
It said the current loan agreement before the house for MPs and Council of State members should therefore, be the last the state is sponsoring.
This recommendation the committee said is born out of the public outcry and discontent raised by sections of the public as the loan agreement was laid before parliament.
The Committee’s report said “The committee took note of recent concerns expressed by many sections of the Ghanaian public about the burden the current vehicle loan arrangement for Members of Parliament and Members of the Council of State impose on the public purse.
“These legitimate concerns are fueled by the fact that, of all the Article 71 office holders, 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.
“The Committee took the view that, as representatives of the people, Members of Parliament cannot continue to leave these concerns unattended. That weakens the confidence Ghanaians have in us. 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. Members of Parliament and Members of the Council of State should have similar duty post vehicle arrangements as other Article 71 office holders. And the Committee respectfully recommends that Parliament and the Parliamentary Service take the necessary steps to ensure that this happens. The instant vehicle loan arrangement for MPs and Council of State Members before us today should therefore be the last one the state is sponsoring.”