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Loan for MPs’ vehicle should be discontinued – Committee

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The Finance Committee of Parliament has recommended that going forward the current vehicle loan arrangement for Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of the Council of State should be discontinued.

It said MPs and Council of State Members should also be given similar duty post vehicles as other Article 71 office holders.

The Committee, therefore, recommended that Parliament and the Parliamentary Services took the necessary steps to ensure that was achieved.

The Chairman of the Finance Committee, Mr. Kwaku Kwarteng, , said this when he presented the report of the Finance Committee to procure a loan facility from the National Investment Bank Limited for MPs and Council of State Members to purchase vehicles.

The House, earlier in the month, had approved a loan agreement between the Government and the National Investment Bank for a total of US$31,500,000 to finance the purchase of vehicles for MPs and Members of Council of State.

Additionally, the House approved the request for 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 Fees and Withholding Tax (IRS Tax Deposit) totalling US$13,387,500 for the purchase of vehicles for MPs and Members of Council of State.

The terms and conditions of the loans are facility amount for MPs car loan US$28 million and Council of State US$3.5 million, with both having an interest rate of eight per cent per annum.

The upfront fees are 1.5 per cent flat of facility amount for both MPs and Council of State members. However, there has been public outcry against the loan request to finance the procurement of vehicles for the legislators.

The Committee also took note of recent concerns by a section of the public over the burden the loan would have on the public purse, Mr. Kwarteng said.

He described the concerns as legitimate, saying they were fuelled by the fact that of all Article 71 office holders, it was only MPs and Members of Council of State who benefitted from vehicle loans, part of which are re-paid by the state.

According to him, as representatives of the people, MPs could not continue to leave those concerns unattended to, which weakened the confidence Ghanaians had in them.

“We have a responsibility to reflect the values and ideals of the people we represent,” he added. Mr. Cassel Ato Forson, in seconding the motion, said almost every four years the House was subjected to some level of criticism over the provision of car loans.

The Ranking Member on Finance said, often times the facilities and privileges offered to Parliament were taken as though the House was benefiting more than any of the other Article 71 office holders.

He queried why MPs should be denied duty post vehicles if the Chairman of the Lands Commission, the National Commission for Civic Education, the Public Services Commission, Ministers and Deputy Ministers of State among others were enjoying same.

The Chairman of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, supported the proposal by the Committee to reject the car loan.

He said MPs most times suffered public ridicule as result of the car loan and “day-by-day becoming endangered species.”

The Chairman explained that the other office holders under Article 71 were not only given duty post vehicles, but given drivers paid by the state, while the cars were fuelled, maintained and insured by the state.

“Going forward I think MPs cannot continue to allow themselves to be ridiculed,” he concluded.

SourceGNA

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