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19.02.2009 Politics

MPs Reject Ex-Gratia

By Daily Guide
MPs Reject Ex-Gratia

Parliament of Ghana The battle of wits over the ex-gratia awards between President John Evans Atta Mills and Members of Parliament (MPs) has hit a cul de sac as the incensed legislators throw the package at the First Gentleman.

The decision which ironically involves MPs from both sides of the House was a culmination of a series of meetings.

Today's State of the Nation Address was nearly scuttled by the angry MPs as they intended boycotting the official engagement in protest, DAILY GUIDE has learnt.

The MPs consider as unfair, President Mills' decision to slash their approved awards especially since they as the legislature have approved that due the Executive.

They are demanding a reciprocal gesture from the Executive because as they maintain, they are indebted to various financial institutions which are already chasing them for the facilities they extended to them.

The legislators picked the loans to prosecute their campaigns across the country in anticipation of the ex-gratia, so the President's fiat appears to have dealt a blow to their expectations.

The slashing of the awards as approved along the lines of the Chinery-Hesse Committee, according to them, is also unconstitutional since approvals by the previous Executive should not be tampered with by the incumbent.

The legislative arrangement, they added, is in consonance with Article 71 of the Constitution.

Hon Alban Bagbin, Majority Leader, who engaged in a shuttle diplomacy between the Executive and the Legislature, appears to have failed in his bid to bring the encounter to an amicable end with this turn of events.

During the first meeting following the announcement of the slashing of the awards due MPs, those on the Minority side were more vocal and indeed did the talking as their counterparts on the other side only nodded in approval.

They were scared of being associated with the disapproval of the presidential action at the time.

It would be recalled that President Mills slashed the awards due MPs and ordered the constitution of a committee to recommend an alternative package.

The action has elicited mixed reaction from members of the public.

Those inclined to legalities have questioned the authority of the President to take such an action because according to them, actions of this sort taken by the previous Executive and approved by the Legislature cannot be touched by the incumbent government as is being attempted by President Mills.

Moreso they maintain that the expenditure was contained in the budget for the first quarter of this year and since there can be no diversion of such approved funds, they consider President Mills' action as unconstitutional.

The Presidential Spokesperson, Hon Mahama Ayariga, in a statement in the heat of the argument over the issue, stated that there was no record of communication between the previous Executive and the Legislature.

This, the former Chief of Staff and Minister for Presidential Affairs, Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani, has rubbished as mendacious because as he put it, the correspondence to that effect and which was directed to the House of Parliament originated from him.

Not even copies produced outside the Castle and Parliament could convince the former to alter its position as it ordered the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) to verify the authenticity of the documents.

With the decision to reject the package as presented by President Mills, there appears not to be an end in sight over what is almost beginning to look like an albatross hanging around the neck of the First Gentleman.

Even as they listen to President Mills deliver his maiden State of the Nation Address, a critical role of his office, MPs especially those on the Majority side are likely to be doing so halfheartedly.

By A.R. Gomda