Media Foundation for West Africa condemns MPs for demanding T&T from event organisers (April 17, 2015) Front



The Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Mr Sulemana Braimah, has condemned the practice whereby some Members of Parliament (MPs) demand travel and transportation (T&T) allowance before honouring invitations to events.

“I don’t think it is right for public officials to be given transport when they go for public interest events,” he told the Daily Graphic in a telephone conversation.

He said  just as it was inappropriate for Ghanaian journalists to demand ‘soli’ (money given to journalists to cover their transport after they provide coverage for an event), it was not right for MPs to receive T&T for doing public service. 
 
“Journalists take soli for transport because their transportation cost is not covered by their organisations and this is considered wrong. For MPs, it is important that when they are involved in public-interest events about what people think, what people feel to inform what decisions they make, in terms of policy, it is wrong for them to receive transport after public-interest events,” Mr Braimah said. 

He, however, declined to share experiences of the MFWA with respect to MPs that demand such payments.

Several follow-up calls to Mr Braimah‘s mobile phone for him to expatiate on his statement, however, went unanswered.

Not new

Allegations of some MPs being paid to carry out public interest activities in Parliament is not a new subject.

In March last year, the Majority Leader, Mr Alban S.K. Bagbin, stirred a pot of controversy when he alleged  that some MPs take bribes to articulate the views of some individuals and organisations on the floor of Parliament. 

The Nadowli/Kaleo MP said: “The reality is that MPs are Ghanaians and there is evidence that some MPs take bribes and come to the floor and try to articulate the views of their sponsors.

“This is because in Ghana we have not developed what we call lobbying. There are rules; there are ethics regarding lobbying and we in Ghana think that lobbying is taking money, giving it to MPs and writing pieces for them to go and articulate on the floor. That is bribery,” he explained. 

A month later, an aspirant in the 2008 New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential primaries, Dr Kobina Arthur Kennedy, shared a similar view, saying  “Ghanaians are being screwed multiple times by our Parliament”.

“We pay them to guard the public purse. The Executive pays them to approve corrupt deals—private companies pay them to propagate bogus opinions and we are poorer for it,” he observed.

In 2008, Mr Collins Appiah-Ofori, the controversial, plain-spoken and then the MP for the Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa constituency, alleged that members on the then Majority side, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), had been paid $5,000 each by the government to push forward the Vodafone deal.
Mr Appiah-Ofori was in Parliament on the ticket of the NPP.  

Reactions
In his reaction, the Minority Leader in Parliament, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, denied the allegation, describing it as a sweeping statement that had the tendency to paint all MPs in a bad light.

He said it was crucial for Mr Braimah to come up with the names of the MPs that he had information on for demanding money from event organisers.

“He should be candid to come out with the list of the MPs who demand money. He has to come out better,” Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu insisted.

He said since Parliament was mandated to be accountable to the people, Mr Braimah should have been specific in his accusations.

The Deputy Majority Leader, Mr Alfred Agbesi, said Mr Braimah’s inability to mention the names of any MPs or event organisers who claimed that MPs had demanded money before honouring their programmes “makes the story unbelievable”.

He said, for instance, that Parliament had an agreement with STAR-Ghana for training programmes for MPs.

Mr Agbesi said since the money given to MPs who attended such programmes was documented, they could not be said to be demanding money from STAR-Ghana

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