MPs demand more … They want to be paid as High Court Judges

Members of Parliament have raised concerns over their poor conditions of service which, they say, should be synonymous with judges of the High Courts.

According to the MPs, they face constant harassment from the public from their little benefits, though they are not given their due.

Dr.Akoto OseiThey say, because they are elected public officials, people look up to them to solve societal problems, since they have no one to “cry” to.

The issue came up yesterday, when the House was in the process of adopting the Code of Conduct for MPs, developed by the ad hoc committee, chaired by the Majority Leader, Alban Bagbin.

The MP for Old Tafo, Anthony Akoto Osei, who spoke with so much emotions on the issue, said the conditions of service of MPs were supposed to tally equally with those of High Court Judges, but their actual privileges were nowhere near the judges.

“Some of us, if we had pursued legal professions, could be Supreme Court judges. People think we enjoy all forms of privileges, but it is not good enough, compared to others,” he said, and added that some MPs have classmates who are Supreme Court judges but are earning far less than the judges, even though they all belong to an arm of government.

He said, MPs were the only public officials who borrow monies personally for public service projects but do not even have offices to work in, and suggested to Parliament to publish their conditions of service for the public to know what their benefits are.

“If our constituents know our conditions of service, maybe the demands will be reduced. I do not know any Parliament in the world that MPs do not have offices. But here we are, our files are in our cars and people think MPs are enjoying,” he said.

Dr. Akoto Osei said almost all public officers, including secretaries, have their own offices but MPs do not have offices, and urged his colleagues to be bold to tell the public what their conditions of service are in order to get their sympathy.

According to the Old Tafo MP, some ministers of state have very little respect for their colleague MPs, because they know the MPs earn very little, compared to ministers.

“We should not be afraid to talk about it. We should be bold to tell the public our problems, because people think we are here enjoying. If we tell them and they are not sympathetic, at least, they will know the truth,” he said.

The Deputy Minority Leader, Dominic Nitiwul (NPP Bimbila), said people think MPs are given free fuel, electricity, and cars, among other benefits but all those perceptions are untrue.

“I pay GH¢3,500 every month from the little I have to service a car loan. Because we are elected officials and people look up to us to solve their problems; we are unable to win any argument when we complain. We cannot cry to anybody because the public believes we are the ones to solve their problems,” he said.

The MP for Manhyia South, Mathew Opoku Prempeh, urged Parliament to publish the conditions of service of the MPs to enable the public to know their real benefits and privileges.

He said there was a general perception that MPs were earning more, and added that the Code of Conduct alone would not automatically erase that perception.

“If the public is interested in MPs salaries and terms of office, no matter the code that we set for ourselves, it will not answer the issue. I will please recommend that in order to abide by openness and accountability, conditions of service should be published,” he said.

By Yaw Kyei

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