From all practical indications, Members of Parliament (MPs) seem totally unaffected by the current crunchy economic conditions in the country, Today’s findings have established.
This is because after being paid hefty salaries and gargantuan ex-gratia awards in money, the MPs have adopted disingenuous means of siphoning more money from the national purse.
One of the devices they have adopted for the purpose is the sitting of the Parliamentary Select Committees with the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to discuss the latter’s (MDAs) budget allocations for the current fiscal year.
Per the Standing Orders of Parliament, after the passage of the Appropriations Bill, MPs that are members of the Parliamentary Select Committees are expected to meet with the various MDAs to deliberate on their budget allocations.
Although such meetings are supposed to be part of the core duties of the MPs, this paper has established that Select Committee members demand huge sitting allowances from the Ministries before they agree to meet them (the Ministries) on the budget estimates for the fiscal year.
Each member of the Select Committee demands, we learnt, GH¢2,000.00 before they agree to sit with a Ministry to discuss or deliberate their budget estimates. Today discovered that members of each Select Committee range from 20 to 25 members depending on the size of the Ministry whose affairs they deal with in Parliament.
By simple arithmetic therefore, for a 25-member Select Committee, a Ministry is expected to pay the members a whopping GH¢50,000.00 per sitting day. To make more money, Today learnt, some MPs deliberately delay their work so that they could sit for more days.
To bag more days and thereby make more money, the MPs, this paper discovered, sometimes make needless demands such as asking for documents that have totally nothing to do with the subject of the sitting, and the Ministry has to spend time to locate the document.
Thus a Select Committee-Ministry meeting that should last a day can sometimes go on for three days, Today can authoritatively report.
By conservative estimate, the Mahama administration works with about 26 Ministries, hence for 25-member Select Committees sitting all round with all the Ministries, Ghana spends GH¢1.3 million per day for a job MPs are already paid huge salaries to do.
Another tactic adopted by the MPs is that they seize the prerogative to decide the venue of the meetings with the Ministries and they choose plush 4-star and 5-star hotels for these national assignments.
Although each ministry has a conference room, information available to Today indicate that the MPs choice of meeting grounds include the plush and luxurious interiors of M-Plaza Hotel at Roman Ridge, Movenpick Ambassador Hotel across the street from the Ghana National Theatre in Ministries, and; the Holiday Inn at Airport City.
Aside from the payment of the huge sitting allowances of the MPs that are borne by the respective Ministries, the Ministries also pick up the bill covering the hiring of these top-class hotels as venue for the meetings.
This paper also learnt that at these plush meeting venues each MP is entitled to two coffee breaks per day, and so a Ministry also has to pay $80.00 per day for each of the 20 or 25 members of a Select Committee.
By simple estimate, for a 25-member Parliamentary Select Committee a Ministry pays $2,000.00 per day. In instances, where the meetings are inconclusive and has to go into the next day, the Ministry pays another GH¢2,000.00.