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09.02.2009 Politics

Six MPs pick ex gratia cheques

Six MPs pick ex gratia cheques

At least six former and current Members of Parliament (MPs) have already, received their ex gratia payments, government sources have confirmed to the Daily Graphic.

Although sources within Parliament and the seat of government would not disclose the identities of the beneficiaries, they indicated that the beneficiaries withdrew their moneys at some banks in Accra before President Mills ordered the suspension of the payments.

Mr Moses Asaga, a member of the Finance Subcommittee of the Government Transitional Team, was said to have authorised the payment of the ex gratia on January 16, this year.

The sources explained that following reports to President Mills that the ex gratia had been paid, a former MP was asked to check on his accounts and he later returned to confirm that the money had been lodged in the account.

That, they said, made the President to call for the suspension of the payments, at which point it was detected that six of the cheques had already been paid.

The President is expected to meet his team of advisors in the next few days to decide on the way forward on the issue.

The contentious issue to address is whether the beneficiaries will be asked to refund the money or be made to enjoy it, since it is no fault of theirs that the money has been paid into their accounts as ex gratia.

The discussion will also deal with the outstanding MPs as to whether they should be made to receive theirs as authorized or they have to wait until the package is reviewed.

When contacted, a former MP for Zebilla, Mr John Ndebugre, said halting the payments to the beneficiaries would constitute a breach of the four-year contract of the beneficiaries.

According to him, those who had not collected their ex gratia might have to go to court to challenge the decision of the government not to pay the money.

He denied withdrawing his and said he wished he had gone to the bank earlier to withdraw it.

"As I speak to you now, I am dying of hunger," he said.

Mr Ndebugre said Ghanaians were taking democracy too far and wondered why a demonstration by some people should compel the President to halt what were legal payments.

Meanwhile, Mr Asaga, who was said to have authorised the payments, has appealed to the President to temper justice with mercy.

He said the President should reconsider his decision to revoke his nomination because he had many positives which should not be overlooked because of a single misdeed.

Sources say the President's decision to withdraw Mr Asaga's nomination was because the President felt it would be difficult for him to entrust a ministerial position to a person who would not consult his colleagues or seek clearance and authorisation on controversial issues before implementing them.