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$28m car loan for MPs approved by Parliament

BY: Mary Quartey

Parliament on Thursday, July 15, 2021, has approved the Medium-Term Loan Agreement for an amount of $28 Million and $3.5 Million to finance the Purchase of Vehicles for MPs of the 8th Parliament and Members of the Council of State respectively.

It also includes the waiver of import duties, import NHIL, import GETFUND Levy, import VAT, Exim Levy, Covid-19 Recovery Levy, Special Import Levy, ECOWAS Levy, AU Levy, Inspection Feed and Withholding Tax(IRS Tax Deposit) amounting to $13,387,500.00. The finance committee observed that the need for safe and reliable means of transport for Members of parliament particularly in the performance of their functions between Parliament and their respective constituencies cannot be overemphasized.

Repayment By Beneficiaries

On the issue regarding the mode of payment, the report explains that with respect to Members of Parliament, the Agreement requires an undertaking by the Parliamentary Service of Ghana to make deductions from the remuneration of the beneficiaries at source and to issue a single Cheque to cover the monthly repayments of the Loan Facility. In the case of Members of the Council of State, the Ministry of Finance is required to secure an undertaking from each beneficiary to ensure that allowances are channelled through their accounts with NIB and to mandate NIB to effect deductions for the purpose of the Loan Agreement.

Members of Ghana’s Parliament had kicked against the current arrangement where Legislators and Members of the Council of State are made to contribute to the purchase and maintenance of their duty post vehicles by taking a loan for that purpose for which they service with their salaries over the four years.

According to them, Article 71 of the 1992 Constitution makes a special dispensation for a category of public Officers whose duty vehicles among other things are catered for by the Consolidated fund, yet Members of Parliament and Members of the Council of State who are also in this category, are the only institutions who have had a different arrangement up till date. Presenting the Finance Committee’s Report on the Medium-Term Loan Agreement, the Chairman of the Committee, Kwaku Kwarteng observed that the MPs are being discriminated against.

The Finance Committee, therefore, recommended to Members of Parliament to reject the car loans made available to Members of Parliament to procure duty post vehicles for their official duty the four-year stay as representatives of the people going forward.

“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 arrangement as other Article 71 officeholders have,” the report says.

Taking their turns to contribute on the issue on the Floor, the MPs from both sides of the House were unanimous about the fact that they also deserve a duty post vehicle sponsored from the consolidated fund just as the other Article 71 officeholders. They have therefore concluded that Government should make the necessary arrangements to provide Members of Parliament with what they deserve and therefore this particular loan facility should be the last of its kind.

Committee Recommendations

Meanwhile, the recommendation of the Finance Committee on this issue further indicates, “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 imposed 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 vehicles loans, 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.”

Hence, the report emphatically stated that the instant vehicle loan arrangement for MPs and Council of State Members before parliament should be the last one the state is sponsoring.

Source: Adoanewsonline.com

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