Assembly members in the Upper West Region have vehemently protested against Local Government Ministry’s directive regarding payment of ex-gratia to members of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).
The Local Government Ministry in a wireless message circulated to all MMDAs, directed that an amount of GH¢2,500.00 be paid to Metropolitan members, GH¢1,500.00 to Municipal members, and GH¢1,000.00 to members at the Districts.
But Assembly members furiously described the directive as discriminatory and questioned why the Local Government Minister gave such a directive, when the law was clear that payment of ex-gratia to Assembly Members shall be determined by the MMDAs themselves.
Mr. Stephen Kpen, Presiding Member for Lawra District Assembly, raised the issue at the Upper West Regional Delegates Conference of the National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG) held in Wa.
He pointed out that the functions of Assembly Members in whatever level were the same and should therefore be remunerated the same across board.
“In fact, harsh conditions at the district level even makes the task of the Assembly Member more daunting and challenging than that of the Metropolitan or even the Municipal Assembly Member,” he stated.
Madam Agnes Naa Momo Lartey, the General Secretary of NALAG, explained that there was a provision that outlined the formula for calculating the ex-gratia of members of the MMDAs based on their Internally Generated Funds (IGF) capacity.
She said going by the calculation, some assemblies would be paying “something next to nothing as ex-gratia to their Assembly Members as their IGF capacity are so abysmal.”
“It is based on this that the Local Government Ministry gave the directive and I think it is even in the interest of Assembly Members in deprived districts,” she defended.
The NALAG General Secretary stated that the law that says MMDAs should pay their members ex-gratia from the IGF should be re-visited and possibly amended because Assembly Members were not happy about it.
Mr. Tanko Dauda Daniel, Assembly Member for Wellembelle Electoral Area who expressed his disappointment about the discriminatory directive, blamed NALAG for not making such an important document available to Assembly Members to educate themselves on how their ex-gratia should be determined.
He proposed a review of the laws to prevent a situation where a Minister would give a directive that would be viewed as though the Minister was usurping the powers of the assembly.
Mr. John Baptist Atogiba, Chief Director of the Upper West Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) who spoke on behalf of the Regional Minister, Alhaji Amidu Sulemana, pointed out that some laws in the local government act must be reviewed as several of them had outlived their usefulness.
He said there should be a policy guiding the payment of ex-gratia and allowances to members of MMDAs to avoid all the controversies surrounding the issue.
“This is an omission not from the Assemblies alone but also from the Ministry itself,” the Chief Director noted.
The meeting also proposed the setting up of Assembly members’ common fund to empower them to function effectively as the task of presiding over an Electoral Areas was huge.