MEMBERS OF Parliament of the outgoing Fifth Parliament of the Fourth Republic yesterday adjourned sitting abruptly over what they described as “unresolved” issues concerning their welfare, stalling some unfinished business of government in the House.
Even though the issues were not openly disclosed on the floor of the House, contributions of Members gave out the clues indicating that the lawmakers were curiously worried about their back pay and End-of-Service Benefits or gratuity, popularly known as ex-gratia, that created some brouhaha in 2009.
Meanwhile, President John Dramani Mahama would be facing the MPs today to deliver the state-of-the-nation address in accordance with Article 67 of the constitution.
It is not immediately clear whether the issue of ex-gratia would be resolved before President Mahama faces the lawmakers as information filtering through indicates that the unresolved issue of the gratuity could create tension between the first gentleman of the land and the MPs with the latter said to be rolling their sleeves for a saliva-dropping showdown.
The MPs had called for a joint caucus meeting for the leadership to brief them on the ex-gratia particularly for the lawmakers who would not be part of the Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic which starts on Monday January 7, 2013.
That, according to them, was to prevent the unfortunate occurrence in 2009 where President Atta Mills initially froze the ex-gratia legally approved by his predecessor President John Agyekum Kufuor in accordance with Article 71 of the 1992 Constitution.
“We want all the issues to be resolved before this Parliament ends because we would not want the situation again where MPs were paid their monies and letters were issued to stop them from withdrawing these monies,” MP for Tamale Central and Deputy Minister for Energy Alhaji Inusah Fuseini pointed out.
However, Deputy Majority Leader Alhaji Abdul-Rashid Pelpuo indicated he did not have any information on the unresolved issues for the meeting to come on, an occurrence which compelled the First Deputy Speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho, to adjourn proceedings to this morning.
This was to enable the leadership in charge of government business to gather information about the ex-gratia with the view to giving a definitive solution to the perennial problem of the gratuity.
It would be recalled that President John Atta Mills initially refused to pay in full the gratuity or ex-gratia of MPs, which was approved by President Kufuor for the previous Parliament in accordance with Article 71 of the 1992 Constitution.
After assuming office in 2009 and with the prompting of “street agitators” in the Committee for Joint Action (CJA) including Kwesi Pratt and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa who is now MP-elect for North Tongu, President Mills set up the Ishmael Yamson Committee to review the ex-gratia of MPs for the previous parliament, which was approved by his predecessor.
The move, widely described by political analysts as a populist approach to an otherwise simple matter, became an albatross around the neck of the President, as some former MPs threatened to take legal action against him should he go ahead to eventually cut down their purse.
One of such determined personalities was John Akparibo Ndebugri, former MP for Zebilla in the Upper East Region.
Source: Awudu Mahama/Daily Guide
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