Parliament on Thursday approved a $28 million loan from the National Investment Bank (NIB) Limited, to procure vehicles for Members of the Eighth Parliament.
The money is part of a total $31.5 million in agreements signed between the Ministry of Finance and NIB, aimed at financing the purchase of appropriate means of transport for MPs and members of the Council of State (2021-2024).
The medium-term loan agreement has an interest rate of 8% per annum to be paid within 45 months for the MPs and 42 months for the Council of State members.
The House also approved the Finance Ministry’s request for the waiver of Import Duties, Import NHIL, Import GETFund Levy, Import VAT, EXIM Levy, COVID-19 Recovery Levy, Special Import Levy, ECOWAS Levy, AU Levy, Inspection Fees and Withholding Tax (IRS Tax Deposit) amounting to the Ghana Cedi equivalent of US$13,387,500 for the purchase of vehicles.
The two agreements were presented to the House on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 and referred to the Finance Committee by the Speaker in pursuant to Article 103 of the 1992 Constitution and Orders 169 and 171 of the Standing Orders of the House.
In accordance with the report of the Presidential Committee on Emoluments (PCE) for Article 71 Office Holders (January, 2017- December 2020), the state is required to facilitate a car loan for MPs and members of the Council of State.
Since the inauguration of the Eighth Parliament on January 7, 2021, MPs have not been provided with any means of transport, even though they are required to perform various functions in Parliament and in their constituencies, as well as travel to various destinations for workshops, conferences and monitoring visits.
No provision has also been made for the members of the Council of State either, and it is for this reason the Finance Ministry is procuring a loan facility from the NIB for the purchase of vehicles.
The committee observed that the loan facilities were necessary to provide the framework through which NIB, shall disburse funds to finance the purchase of vehicles and comprehensive insurance to cover.
The Finance Committee said it took note of recent concerns expressed by many sections of the Ghanaian public about the burden the current vehicle loan arrangement for MPs and Council of State imposed on the public purse.
“These legitimate concerns are fueled by the fact that, of all the Article 71 office holders, it is only the MPs and Council of State members who benefit from these vehicle loans, part of which are re-paid by the state,” it stated.
The committee took the view that, as representatives of the people, MPs could continue to leave these “concerns unattended” and that they have a responsibility to reflect the values and ideals of the people they represent.
“Accordingly, the Committee strongly recommends to Parliament the discontinuation of the current vehicle loan arrangement for MPs and Council of State members,” Chairman of the Finance Committee, Kwaku Kwarteng, read out.
The committee called on the Parliamentary Service to take the necessary steps to ensure that the current arrangement is discontinued as agreed, intimating that, “the instant vehicle loan arrangement for MPs and Council of State members would therefore be the last one the state will sponsor.
By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House