Source: Daily Guide
President John Mahama has called on public office holders to be courteous and accommodate every member of the public who calls on them for specific reasons because it is the taxes of the members of the public that are used to pay them.
The president made the call yesterday when he officially commissioned the refurbished State House Tower Block popular known as ‘Job 600? at the premises of Parliament, which is to serve as offices for Members of Parliament (MPs).
President Mahama noted that oftentimes public office holders, especially ministers and other public servants, treat ordinary members of the public with disdain when they call on them, stressing that that attitude must change since “we are there to serve them; that is why they call us public servants.”
According to the president, taxes used to pay office holders are contributed by the ordinary Ghanaian and that public office holders must from now see themselves as servants of the people and not masters.
The president called on MPs to also make time for their constituents since they (MPs) are their (constituents’) representatives in government and represent their interests at the national level.
He said the new ‘Job 600? would deepen and consolidate democratic rule in the country, adding that the refurbishment must not be seen as a waste of public resources.
President Mahama noted that Parliament is a very critical arm of government which also serves as oversight for the executive and that if Members of Parliament are not made effective by giving them the proper tools to work with, they could even pass bad laws that would eventually bring financial loss to the state. He recounted his experience as a former MP for Bole in the Northern Region from 1996 to 2008 where parliamentarians were holding committee meetings in the corridors of the Chamber of Parliament and the inconvenience it caused them and other staff of the House.
He said they were also conducting public business from the boots of their cars as is being done currently by the MPs
“The current speaker and I were also Members of the Pan-African Parliament in South Africa and whenever we travelled to the country for parliamentary duties, we would be given plush accommodation and offices only to return to Ghana to meet the reality of being officeless,” he said.
The president asked MPs to justify the investment made for them by working hard for the interest of the people and the nation at large.
The Speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho, thanked the President for fulfilling his promise in his State of the Nation address that by the end of this year MPs would be provided with offices.
He said the current MPs must see themselves as ‘special ones’ to start using modern offices to enhance their work.
He, however, said that the ‘Job 600’ project started in 1996 when former President Jerry John Rawlings was in office and was continued by former President John Agyekum Kufuor and the late President Atta Mills, but was eventually completed by the current president.
He said he would consult the president and the leadership of Parliament and name the new edifice after a statesman who has contributed so much to the work and growth of Parliament.
The Majority Leader, Alban Bagbin, said that MPs would now be relieved with the provision of offices for them and their research assistants.
The Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, used the occasion to appeal to the president to ensure that Parliament is well resourced to be able to discharge its constitutional mandate effectively.
According to the minority leader, oversight responsibilities depend on the strength of Parliament and that it ought to be adequately resourced to be able to discharge its oversight duties effectively.
The new ‘Job 600’ has a 300-seater auditorium, gym centre, bank services, clinic, church, mosque, restaurant, MPs’ dining room and ICT centre.