A former Member of Parliament for Gomoa West, Alexander Abban, says the argument over the car loan agreement tabled by the government for MPs to purchase vehicles is unnecessary.
The Minister for Finance, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, presented a loan agreement for $28 million to Parliament for the purchase of vehicles for Ghana’s legislators.
Based on the amount, each of the 275 MPs is expected to receive $100,000 for the purchase of a vehicle.
The Finance Committee of the House is expected to consider the loan agreement and report to the House.
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, Parliament will bare sixty percent of the loan cost with the interest while the beneficiaries cater for just 40 percent.
Speaking on The Big Issue, the former Gomoa West MP stated that members of the other arms of government are given specific treatment but the Members of Parliament are always treated differently.
“To be honest, I think this is much ado about nothing. We have three arms of government, equal in stature to push the agenda of our governance forward. But over the years, people think that the business of Ghana can go on anyways without Parliament. That’s the historical baggage we are coming with.”
“Now, that historical resentment for Parliament is still here. Ministers are given cars and in the event that it is involved in a crash, it is replaced. The same goes for the Judiciary and they are all fueled and serviced by the state. It gets to the turn of an MP and they are given a loan for cars to be serviced and fueled by themselves and after four years, they keep it. But every four years cars depreciate and at some small public agencies every four years MDs get new cars.”
“If we decide to go to all the ministries to see all the people using state cars, all of them together surpass the total number of MPs, but because of the historical resentment of the parliament’s role, people put more value on the Chief Director’s work than that of the MP,” he added.
There have been situations in the past where some MPs have failed to pay back car loans.
In 2017, the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), was on the heels of some Members of Parliament who bought their vehicles on loan but had defaulted in paying back several years after.
Reports indicate that letters had been written to the MPS for them to honour their obligations, but they did not reply.
Reactions to the proposal
The Vice-Chairman of Parliament’s Finance Committee, and MP for Okaikwei Central, Patrick Boamah, has said that if he had his way, he would have asked his colleagues to reject the latest car loan agreement.
According to him, the state should rather consider purchasing cars in a pool for MPs to use during their term in office and hand over to their successors when they leave Parliament.
He contends that the public backlash that follows the procurement of loans is unfair when it is the case that MPs have to pay back the money while their colleagues in other arms of government access these vehicles as part of their conditions of office.
“If I had my way, I would tell my colleagues to reject the facility for the simple reason that all the other arms of government, vehicles are procured for them without going through the process where the media is always on the back of MPs for contracting a loan.”
North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has called for an end to the practice where government facilitates loans for MPs. He wants MPs to either go through that process themselves or that the state makes vehicles available for their use as it is done in the case of other public or civil servants.