May 11 (Graphic) -- PARLIAMENT reconvened yesterday with Members of Parliament (MP) lamenting over the excessive demands for financial support and assistance by the electorate.
A number of MPs that Graphic interviewed after the day's sitting had been adjourned by the Speaker, Mr Begyina Sekyi Hughes, said the constant and persistent pressure being put on them by the electorate for support of all kinds, especially financial, had become an “albatross around our necks”.
These demands, according to them, ranged from the payment of school fees and medical bills, fees for vocational training of the youth, acquisition of visas for prospective travellers and the provision of infrastructure like schools and potable water for communities in their respective constituencies.
“We have been overwhelmed by numerous demands by the electorate who think we should meet their expectations for the simple reason that they elected us to Parliament,” the MPs bemoaned.
They said their meagre salaries and the litany of requests by the electorate have made it increasingly difficult for them to meet the expectations of the vast majority of the people.
“Our monthly salaries cannot even meet the cost of the fuel that we purchase to visit our constituencies to interact with the people, much more to attend to other pressing issues related to our work,“ the MPs said.
They said a number of them had run into debts as a result of such demands which they are struggling to defray to protect their image and integrity.
They appealed to the media to help parliament educate the people about the role of MPs so that the increasing demands piled on them would be minimised.
In his welcome address, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Felix Owusu-Adjapong, expressed concern over voter apathy which had characterised by-elections since 2001.
He said the low voter turnout during the recent Asawase by-election should be a source of worry and concern to all political parties since it does not augur well for the country's democratic process.
Mr Owusu-Adjapong, who is also the Majority Leader therefore, appealed to the leadership of the respective political parties to educate their members and supporters on the need to participate in such elections.
The minister praised the leadership of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for their efforts which ensured that most of their supporters in the Asawase constituency exercised their franchise in the by-election.
'”The results at the Asawase by-election indicated that the NDC and the newly-elected MP worked very hard and also that the country appreciated the power of the people,” Mr Owusu Adjapong said.
The Deputy Minority Leader, Mr Doe Adjaho, called for thorough investigations to ascertain the causes of certain developments that nearly marred the election.
He said the investigations should ensure that those who engaged in thuggery and other forms of violence and are found guilty are prosecuted to serve as deterrent to others.
The Speaker welcomed the MPs to the second meeting of the House at the commencement of the sitting and urged them to organise themselves for the tasks that lie ahead of them during the next two and a half months.
Mr Hughes called for support and co-operation among the MPs to ensure the smooth and orderly conduct of public business in the House and also asked them be punctual.