A group of assembly members and presiding members in the Western Region have called out the “alien” Ghana Association of Assembly Members (GAAM) for embarking on an “agenda that violates article 250(2) of the 1992 Constitution”.
The group – Concerned Assembly Members – explained GAAM, whose organizational structure is unknown to them, have for some time been leading a charge supposedly on their behalf for assembly members to receive remuneration.
“We want to first indicate that as assembly members we are not members of this association called GAAM and that the mother association we recognize is NALAG. We also do recognize our regional and national arrangement of Conference of presiding members…”
Addressing a press conference, Coordinator of the group and assembly member for Komfueku/Ituma Electoral Area in the Shama District in the Western Region Percy Ahenakwah insisted that they are aware of the incontrovertible fact that the payment of emoluments to assembly members is a creation of the Constitution, therefore, any change must be subjected to a thorough consultation “even before we can talk of an amendment”.
He further argued that some assembly members and presiding members are professionals who are already being paid salaries and questions whether the request will not amount to taking double salary.
“Today, we have assembly members who belong to different categories of professionals whose salaries are already charged to the Consolidated Fund. Example, we have medical doctors, teachers, nurses and other public servants. The big question is whether or not we will be encouraging double salaries should the request be granted in the present state of the law.”
Percy Ahenakwah, who is also a former Presiding Member of the Shama District Assembly, again raised the issue of “whether or not fully employed assembly members who are staff of other government agencies will now have the option to choose which salary to draw”, when the request is granted.
He also questioned whether the present state of the law makes the office of the assembly member a full staff of the assembly or a part time staff.
“Section 18(1) of the 936thAct of the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana that is the Local Governance Act, Act 936, 2016 states that a District Assembly shall meet three times in a year. And so clearly the law does not anticipate a full time work for us”.
Despite the group’s stance on payment of salaries to assembly members, Percy Ahenakwah enumerated a litany of suggestions he believes can enhance their work.
“Our Ministry should collaborate with NALAG to procure motorbikes for assembly members before the end of this year.”
He stated that an amendment is required to pay equitable and fair allowances to all assembly members by Central Government.
“This is because the financial capabilities of the assemblies differ and that when payment of allowances are left to the assemblies alone, assembly members will experience inequalities as less privileged assemblies don’t generate enough revenue to meet the demands of article 250(2).”
Percy Ahenakwah also called on the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development to implement with immediate effect the proposal to increase the allocation to sub-structures from 2 percent to 10 percent.
“That Central government should work out the amendment to operationalize a transparent formula for payment of ex-gratia and call on the MMDAs to as a matter of urgency pay all outstanding ex-gratia to the members of the immediate past assembly.”