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03.08.2005 Politics

Lamentation Of Members Of Parliament


MEMBERS of Parliament (MPs) face a serious dilemma which invariably would have far reaching consequences on their activities and output in the House and in their respective constituencies.

In Parliament, they are faced with problems of accommodation, transportation and attending to numerous visitors who besiege the House on a daily basis to seek for favours and assistance.

While on recess, the MPs would be confronted with even problems of greater magnitude, ranging from meeting their electoral promises and providing financial assistance to poor families to send their children to school and to attend to other commitments.

The mass of MPs have not yet secured accommodation and are staying with friends and relations. The fact is that the vast majority of MPs who served in the Third Parliament of the Fourth Republic are still living in their Sakumono Flats, the reason being that they had not been paid their End of Service Benefits.

What beats the imagination and comprehension of the writer is the inability of the authorities to package the benefits of the former MPs on time to enable the new MPs to have the comfort of the flats and also to facilitate the discharge of their duties.

The issue places majority of the MPs in an awkward situation since they feel uncomfortable staying with their friends whose magnanimity could not be taken for granted.

They consume electricity, water and food, overstretching the financial resources of their benefactors.

Some other MPs are staying in hotels and their bills have become a drain on the national kitty, a situation which has attracted adverse comments from the public.

The public argues that the monies spent on their hotel accommodation could have been used to provide more houses for them considering the fact that the nation is financially constrained and needs resources to service other crucial areas.

It is the bounden duty of MPs to avail themselves of developments in their constituencies, the country and elsewhere to make good and sound contributions on the floor of the House.

But the reality of the situation is that, the numerous commitments of the MP's during the day, leave them with little or no time at all to read letters received or other political, economic and social literature that would deepen their knowledge to enable them to make important contributions to the business of the house.

Considering the prices of literature that deal with the facts of life and society and their meagre salaries, it is difficult for them to buy such literature to educate themselves about the socio-economic developments in the country and elsewhere.

The issue of transportation continues to undermine the efficacy and efficiency of MPs in the discharge of their responsibilities since the majority of them are yet to own their a means of transportation.

Even though the government, through the Barclays Bank Limited has loaned each MP $25,000 to procure a vehicle, the documentation to facilitate the buying of such vehicles has not been completed.

A section of the public who did not agree that the MPs should not be given personal loans to purchase their cars argued that the nation at this critical stage in her development, could not afford such monies and therefore, suggested that a pool of cars be made available for the use of the MPs.

Others did not agree that MPs whose constituencies were located, especially, in the Greater Accra Region should be given the same amount of money as their counterparts from the three northern and western regions, considering the ruggedness of roads in those areas.

It is instructive to note that unlike other national issues in which the MPs assumed entrenched positions , they assumed a collective and unified voice when the issue of car loans came up for their consideration in the House.

The work of MPs is laborious and tedious and for that matter, they need vehicles, especially to send them to their constituencies to attend to the needs and demands of their constituents but the mode of vehicle acquisition; whether a pool of vehicles should be placed at their disposal or loans should be disbursed to them, remains a subject of discussion.

While on recess, MPs would be confronted with more problems in the constituencies where they are supposed to dole out monies to each electoral area they visit.

The writer does not hold brief for the MPs who in the campaign before the 2004 Parliamentary election, made promises to the electorate to solicit their votes. The MPs did not explain to the electorate that they were law makers and therefore, did not award contracts for the execution of projects.

Now that they are back in their constituencies, the electorate would call on them to fulfil such promises in addition to assisting them to get visas for travelling, pay their school fees and medical bills, attend weddings, outdooring, ceremonies and funeral rites.

Such problems constitute the bane of MPs who decide to visit their constituencies once in a while.

MPs are going through crisis looking at the tasks and challenges confronting them in Parliament and in their constituencies and for that matter need our support and sympathies and not condemnation, contempt and ridicule.