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Bagbin: MPs fingered in double salary scandal cannot be blamed

Alban Bagbin

Alban Bagbin

The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin has defended Members of Parliament who were fingered in the double salary scandal.

The Speaker said the MPs cannot be blamed for the weaknesses in the system which failed to do due diligence in making the right payments into their accounts.

About 48 MPs who were ministers of state in the erstwhile Mahama administration were accused in 2018 of receiving double salaries while they were in office.

Addressing the House at the commencement of the first sitting from recess, Bagbin said the House will rather make it a priority to establish an enhanced partnership with other arms of government and relevant state institutions to avoid such occurrences.

“It is important for us to erase the perception of the public on these matters of overpayments which are wrongly being politically called double salaries. It’s a weakness of the system and all presidential committees have commented on these matters. And it is from the experience of 1993 up to date which has led to some of these unfortunate overpayments because of the movements of Members of Parliament from just and ordinarily MP to becoming a deputy minister and the movement of documentation to be able to capture it sometimes will have this overlap,” he said.

Placing a cap on borrowing

For his part, the Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu advocated for the enactment of a law to prevent any government from borrowing more than 70% of the country’s GDP to curb excessive debt stock.

“I think that the Parliament of Ghana, we must set a rule on borrowing and I think that at no point in time should we allow any government to borrow beyond 70% of GDP. Arguably I would have even said 60-65% but, for a Parliament to generously allow governments which has a mandate of four to eight years to borrow beyond 80% of GDP, we’re a country which is torturing at the precipice of bankruptcy,” he said.

However, the Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said an outright restriction of a government’s ability to borrow just on the basis of crossing a 70% to GDP threshold might not be economically prudent.

“The Minority Leader raises a very important matter with respect to the borrowing powers of any particular government. Mr Speaker, I agree with him in principle that we should restrict governments from overborrowing, but for him to tell us that we can decree or make a law to say for instance that you can’t go beyond 70%, what if you borrow around 60% and you say the next government shouldn’t go beyond 70%, what’s the rationale behind that proposition?

“Perhaps, we could relate it to a percentage of the GDP to say that maybe you cannot borrow more than 5% of GDP at a particular time; let’s say a four-year period or say 6% over a four-year period. That, in my view will be much more meaningful,” he said.

Philip Asiawo

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