Former Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament and immediate past Member of Parliament for Dome-Kwabenya constituency, Prof. Mike Oquaye, has strongly defended the payment of ex gratia to parliamentarians at the end of their four-year term.
He insisted that being a legislator was a contract and not a long-term job offer.
The Government has released a total of GH¢63.25 million to cover the ex gratia of MPs who served in the four-year term of the Mills administration from January 6, 2009 to January 6, 2013.
Each of the 230 MPs will receive at least GH¢276,000, a fact which has sparked outrage among ordinary Ghanaians, angered striking teachers and other members of the labour front whose demands for the payment of outstanding emoluments have been spread over a three-month period.
According to a Daily Graphic report, MPs who retained their seats in the December 2012 elections received GH¢276,000 each while those who lost their seats were paid GH¢311,000 each.
According to parliamentary sources, the amount paid to the MPs who were no longer in Parliament included a resettlement grant.
More than 90 MPs who served in the Fifth Parliament are not members of the present Parliament.
Speaking on Adom FM’s Dwaso Nsem morning show on Friday, Prof. Oquaye while calling for a debate on the quantum of money paid as ex gratia, however, argued that many persons who lost their parliamentary seats had seen their careers come to an end because they chose to take up the contract of a legislator.
The former Energy Minister in the Kufuor administration said unlike a long-term job, being an MP was a short-term contract, renewable at the whim of the electorate, and therefore attracted higher compensation due to the risk involved.
Prof. Oquaye acknowledged the concerns of a section of Ghanaians who had expressed displeasure at the quantum of payments, but said the issue should be discussed dispassionately and holistically, pointing out that other Article 71 office holders whose salaries and emoluments were determined by committees set up by the President had received their ex gratia.