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Former Members of Parliament (MPs) of Ghana’s Parliament including those who left the august House in the 1970s are making a distress call on the current Parliament to come to their aid through the provision of a pension scheme and welfare packages.
The former Members of Parliament (MPs), who claim their current living conditions are bad, made the appeal at a conference, dubbed “Forum of Former MPs,” at Parliament House on Wednesday, this week.
Led by its acting president, Mr. Kosi Kedem, a former MP for Hohoe, the group urged parliament to consider providing them with better retirement packages since most of them have remained jobless after exiting the legislature.
“We humbly appeal to parliament to do something urgent about the nasty state of former MPs,” he said.
According to him, though most of them had invested their ex gratia for survival, the investment did not yield well, rendering them jobless and helpless and hardly able to provide for their medical bills and other basic needs.
In that regard, Mr. Kedem said, the best way they could be supported to a sound living was for the Parliamentary Service to institute a pension scheme for sitting MPs and if possible “extend it to former MPs.”
Alternatively, he said, “MPs should be made to retire on part of their salary” as the current end-of-service benefit scheme or “gratuity of collecting bulk sum gives a false hope, it is like a mirage; it is not sustainable.”
The former legislator further lamented that most of the ex-MPs are being stigmatised politically and cannot get any form of employment, calling on parliament to use the forum to tap knowledge from them, irrespective of their political party affiliation.
In the view of Mr. Kedem, most of them have rich experiences which could be tapped for the benefit of the nation, stating that it will not be bad for former MPs to be given political appointments, irrespective of their partisan affiliations.”
In addition, the former lawmakers are appealing to the government through parliament to extend state facilities and services or diplomatic passports for their use.
In his remarks, the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Aaron Oquaye, said the call of the former MPs was timely, because parliamentarians are the ones that hold the democratic dispensation and their welfare should not be underestimated.
He revealed that, plans are far in advance to establish a Second Chamber, if possible, for ex-MPs and others, as done in other nations that have the Senates and House of Commons so to enrich the country’s democracy.
He further pointed out that, the experiences of former MPs remain important to the state and that there was also a consideration of co-opting former MPs as official members of the Parliamentary Service Board.
Parliament, according to Speaker, has provided an official secretariat, with supporting staff and a vehicle, to carry on their activities, and assured them of taking their welfare into consideration.
He urged the former MPs to make their experiences available for tapping by the current MPs, as part of their contribution to the state.
Hon. Alban Bagbin, the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, commended the former MPs for the unity and the foresight to come together on a forum to deliberate issues affecting their welfare, stating that parliament will work on their concerns and factor them into the business, as most of them, the current, will soon be part of them in the near future.
He said information gathered indicated that about 59 former MPs have passed on to glory, but their contributions to the deepening of parliamentary democracy will forever be remembered.
Source: Felix Engsalige Nyaaba || therepublicnewsonline.com