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21.06.2009 Feature Article

US$11.5 Million to be Blown on MPs' Cars!

US$11.5 Million to be Blown on MPs' Cars!
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President John Evans Atta Mills has given approval for a US$50,000 (fifty thousand dollar) 'car' loan for Parliamentarians – this might have been his last presidential move before he dashed to Abuja to beg Musah Yar'dua for some gas to help power the Asogli Power Plant.

We are often told that the Ghanaian Parliament was an independent body – but recent events, particularly this US$50,000-car loan for those noisemakers at the State House is enough proof to rubbish that argument.

There are two competing thoughts here. From the announcement, it's clear that first of all the President of the Republic of Ghana is not a bank – that is confirmed by the caveat that arrangements are yet to 'be firmed up with financial institutions'. Secondly, the amount involved means that the President might have forgotten his avowed claim that he would not tolerate and/or engage in profligate expenditure.

Indeed, the President's endorsement means one thing – in financial circles, the goodwill of the President of the Republic is just as good as money in the bank. The President's word is also as valid collateral – he cannot vanish any day, so in case of default, the financial institution (the lender) would be guaranteed payment of the 'dash'. Sorry that from this paragraph onwards, one is going to refer to the US$50,000 as a dash to the MPs.

The goodwill from the President was exactly what worked for John Kufuor's son. When he was going to take more than US$3 million from the National Investment Bank to buy that hotel near his father's house – because he was the son of the then President, he needn't have to provide a thirteen bedroom house at Manhattan as collateral for the loan. His name was all he needed.

So by giving his endorsement to this outrageous US$50,000 dash to the MPs, what the President was simply doing was to say that every MP is guaranteed the 'free chop'.

First of all, none of the 230 MPs earns US$4,000 per month – may be they do but they have just decided to fraudulently declare paltry sums as their earnings so as to be able to evade the statutory taxes. A simple arithmetic also means that the President has just given the MPs US$11.5 million free money – 230 MPs multiplied by the dash per MP works out to an aggregate US$11.50 million!

One would assume that ceteris paribus, all the 230 MPs we have today would serve their full term and there would therefore not even be a by-election. One would also assume a very concessionary interest rate of just eight (8) percent. Given that all the MPs would access their dash by the end of September 2009, they would have thirty-nine months assuming that they were going to pay it back as in a normal loan making cycle.

This means that if it is true that the US$50,000 would be treated as a proper loan, which would not be paid for with any monies from behind the scenes, each of the MPs should be making monthly repayment of at least US$1,385 (one thousand three hundred and eight-five dollars).

In the loan making process, the banks don't want to deduct more than 50 percent of your net salary – this is to ensure that the borrower is not stressed unduly. Therefore, I just can't get how these MPs would be able to pay back the dash.

One is beginning to think that the politicians have been taking us for fools. Otherwise, they would have been exercising some moderation in their demands. Furthermore, are these people going to buy Bentleys, Hummers or Lincoln Navigators – I am simply lost.

The last time I checked, one could even get a Bentley for US$26,000, so why in Nkrumah's poverty-stricken Ghana would MPs be given each US$50,000 just for cars?

There is no supporting evidence that the MPs have been able to pay back any of those so-called car loans provided them over the years. At best, some of those freebies have only ended up being a burden on the taxpayer.

This also explains why the MPs are always demanding huge end-of-service benefits (ESBs). After all, if an MP who goes to say 'yea yea' in that leaking-roofed building near Osu for four years is given US$1.8 million in ESBs alone, why would he/she not get angry and pay back US$50,000 when the electorate get him/her angry?

I am just sick and tired of the white-colour thievery – I mean this is plain thievery by the political elites. This is refined gangsterism against the ordinary people. It is a collective raping of the resources of the people.

When it comes to cars for their comfort, the NDC and NPP gang up and 'chop' it without hesitation. However, when it comes to water for the people they refer us to their usual drab mantra that 'government needs development partners'.

Tell me democracy is expensive and I would tell you are just a joker and I would prefer another system to this kleptocracy that has been forced on the people.

Even the British Premier does not ride in those type of luxurious cars our greedy MPs use. The last time I checked Gordon Brown was still using the single Jaguar that his predecessor Tony Blair used. He does not even go round in the type of Hollywood convoys our poly-trick chaps do our here. After they get these cars, then they would start terrorising us in traffic and when you challenge them, they would ask you 'do you know who I am'?

Somebody tell me, what type of democracy is this – where only the elites and their allies live good – US$50,000 can build ten boreholes (fitted with pumps).

I am appealing to the masses to begin a rethink of their so-called representatives. They are simply not interested in the welfare of the people. They just gather the taxes and find cunning ways to share it as a thief eats without thinking about the future. We need a change in direction – this parliamentary 'demoncrazy' thing is proving to be rather too costly a game for the ordinary man. However, hey, in Ghana everything is 'Basaa'!

Credit: Kojo Owusu-Mbire Email: [email protected]

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