Some first-time parliamentarians have justified the approval of a $28 million loan agreement to purchase vehicles for legislators.
Parliament approved the controversial loan agreement last week, despite public backlash.
The Minister for Finance, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, presented the $28 million loan agreement in Parliament a few weeks ago.
Per the agreement, each MP was to received about $100,000 for the purchase of a vehicle to aid their mobility and work.
A similar loan agreement of $3.5 million was also laid before the House to enable Council of State members to also purchase cars.
In both cases, government will pay 60% of the loan cost with interest, while the beneficiaries cater for just 40 percent.
Kofi Arko Nokoe and Dorcas Afo Toffey, MPs for Evalue-Ajomoro-Gwira and Jomoro respectively, told Citi News that as much as they sympathise with the concerns raised by Ghanaians, legislators can only execute their mandates with the requisite resources, just as other Article 71 office holders.
The two MPs also agreed to the proposal for vehicles to be attached to the offices of the respective MPs.
“I am from a constituency that is so broad. When travelling from one point to another, you encounter very bad roads. I am in Parliament with some friends and, like myself, they don’t have cars, and it makes it very difficult, and we find ourselves in a political situation where if an MP does not visit his/her constituency it is a problem, so I think the vehicle is a necessity.”
“Yesterday [Sunday], there was an incident at Kutukrom and I had to go there, but how can I go without a car. So, I believe that it is good for us to discuss the types of vehicles, how much it’s going to cost and so on, that will be a good debate. But I believe that for us to deliver and serve our people, there is a need for us to get the cars,” the MP for Evalue-Ajomoro-Gwira stated.
“Ghanaians think this is just about MPs getting loans or cars, but it is not free. It takes so much from our salaries at the end of the day, so it’s not free. That is why we are fighting to make sure that it will be uniform just as Article 71 says so that MPs get the same treatment as other government employees. This is not the first time we are talking about this, so we are fighting, so this becomes a thing of the past,” Dorcas Afo Toffey stated.
$13M tax waiver; $31.5M car loan for MPs, Council of State members approved
Parliament last week approved a tax waiver of 13.3 million dollars for the importation of the vehicles for the MPs and the Council of State members.
During debate on the motion that lasted for over an hour, Members of the House generally agreed with the recommendation of the Finance Committee for the loan arrangement for the purchase of cars for MPs and Members of the Council of State to be discontinued.
The Members argued for a system where MPs like other Article 71 officeholders are provided with duty post vehicles.
Chairman of the Finance Committee, Kwaku Kwarteng, moved the motion on the floor after which Ranking Member on the Committee, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson seconded.