The Member of Parliament for Dormaa Central, Kwaku Agyemang Manu, has insisted that MPs cannot let go of their ex gratia as it is the means through which they can offset some expenditures that come with their job.
Speaking on MultiTV’s political talk show, Joint Caucus, he argued that MPs were not those earning top salaries paid from the state’s coffers as perceived by Ghanaians, adding that they deserved some level of decent salaries.
Mr Manu, who also doubles as Chairman of the Public Account Committee, lamented that Ghanaians did not understand and appreciate that they were not well paid for the kind of work they did and the huge expenditure it comes with.
"Campaigns cost us huge amounts. l spent close to ¢2.94 billion on my campaign and it is same with my colleagues on the general election; not to talk of the primaries that some have to go through two to three times. Our job is very expensive, the risk profile, the expenditure etc. We use our entitlements for some of these things and that is huge".
He added that the job of MPs was contractual and hence all MPs took the same salaries irrespective of the number of years one had been in Parliament.
"When an MP loses his seat, it is difficult to secure a job because of his or her political branding, so they have nothing to feed on except for the exgratia package. Some of us have red accounts, rent and salary arrears, committee allowances that were never paid for four years. Add all that to the ex gratia and nothing is left".
He also attributed the agitations on the labour front to mismanagement of the state’s coffers and not the entitlements of MPs.
"We are worried about the way our coffers are so exhausted, we have used GH¢15 million for guinea fowl project, we have overspent our budget. We targeted 6.7 budget deficit and ended up with 12 per cent, so if there is no money in the consolidated account what has that got to do with our ex gratia? MPs are not to be blamed for the agitations on the labour front," he added.
Reacting on the show, the Minister of state at the Presidency, Mr Rashid Pelpuo, argued that the government had done no wrong, blaming Ghanaians, especially formal sector workers, for the current crisis.
"The majority of Ghanaians who insisted that fuel subsidies are not removed, the public servants who insisted on salary increments applying the single spine policy, among others, are to be blamed for all this. We have been overspending on our salary package and yet the beneficiaries are the same people complaining. Government cannot overspend to pay them more again," he said.
"l agree that we are all public servants but doctors, pharmacists and teachers must not be compared to us. They are not paid the same as four years ago, especially after being migrated to the single spine salary payment structure. We MPs have been marking time," he added.