OUTCRY OVER ¢3.4BN MPS WAGES
By Emmanuel Akli
At the time many Ghanaians are struggling to make ends meet, Members of Parliament (MPs) have been granted an over one hundred percent pay rise. The MPs, whose salaries hover around GH¢3,000, are now to receive a whopping GH¢7,200 a month, about ¢72 million (old currency).
Somewhere last year, the MPs threatened to show the government by rejecting the budget statement if nothing was done about their salaries. Their threat forced the late President Atta Mills to hold a meeting with them at the Castle, before he later proceeded to Parliament to deliver his State of the Nation Address.
Details of what they discussed at the said meeting were not made public, but The Chronicle gathered at the time that the MPs were not happy with their take home pay, and wanted immediate adjustment.
President Mills promised to address their concerns, but no report was made public, before his sudden demise in July this year.
The Chronicle gathered that the new pay for the MPs was recommended by the Professor Ewurama Addy Committee, which was set up by the late President Mills to review salary and emoluments of all Article 71 office holders. This includes the executive, judiciary and MPs among others.
Since the current administration assumed office in 2009, the committee also recommended that the new salary should take retrospective effect from January 2009. This means that each MP, apart from other fringe benefits, would earn about GH¢345,600 at the end of their tenure of office. This translates into ¢3.456 billion (old currency).
All efforts by The Chronicle to contact John Kugblenu, head of the Public Affairs Department of Parliament, for his comment on the issue, proved futile, as he failed to the pick the calls.
Meanwhile, the founding President of IMANI Centre for Policy Education, Mr. Franklyn Cudjoe, has protested against the hike in salaries for the MPs. Speaking in a telephone interview with The Chronicle yesterday, Cudjoe argued that the new pay was nearly five times the annual per capita income of Ghana.
“It is also six times the annual average or median income in Ghana. Compare that to the UK, where the average monthly salary is £5,500, or about $8,300 a month, which is LESS than one-fourth of the annual per capita income in the UK. So comparatively, in accordance with the strength of their economies, Ghanaian MPs are paid 20 times better than their UK compatriots,” he said.
“If MPs believe they must be paid 72 times what the average Ghanaian earns, before they can be reasonably comfortable, then clearly, as one part of the government in this country, they are admitting that the living conditions of people are indeed appalling.
“And they shouldn’t tell us it is because they finance their own offices, because we haven’t seen any research they have been producing for policies in this country – we don’t have a tradition of private member bills, and MPs never produce research on policy,” he added.
Franklyn Cudjoe also contended that the MPs cannot use the monetary demand on them as justification for the new pay. “As for constituents coming to them for money, that is part of the campaign strategies they have adopted in this country.
“That is why they all have fund-raising teams for their politics; it is only a very naive person who will believe that they use their own incomes for that. Did they use their salaries to campaign when they were aspiring to be elected? He asked.
To Franklyn Cudjoe, MPs should be paid wages commensurate with senior professionals in the public service, which should, in turn, be tied to the national median income. “Fifteen times the national median income may be acceptable, but 72 times?”
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