Feature Article of Sunday, 17 June 2012
Columnist: Owusu-Ansah, Emmanuel Sarpong
By Black Power
It is superlatively strange and ridiculous that in an era where even big economies like Germany, the UK, Italy, Spain, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, etc. are embarking on public spending cut plans to reduce their deficits and be able to stand on their feet economically, Ghana, a country that relies heavily on alms (i.e. foreign aid, grants and the benevolence of philanthropists), is rather increasing its spending, not on meaningful, but useless things.
A report published by peacefmonline and reproduce by ghanaweb on 15th June 2012, indicates that the Ghana Electoral Commission with support from the ruling government, has created 45 new constituencies, bringing the number of constituencies in Ghana (a nation with a population of just 24 million) to 275.
Why on earth did the overrated Ghana Electoral Commission decide to create 45 more constituencies? And what exactly were the egoistic and incompetent political demagogues thinking when they endorsed that unwise move? Did they consider the financial and economic implications or repercussions of such undertaking?
Even the UK, which is economically self-reliant, is embarking on a policy of drastic deficit-cutting by lowering spending through a reduction in the amount of public services provided and others; and rather encouraging the private sector to generate more new jobs.
Currently, over a million workers in Briton have been culled from the public sector, following the public spending cuts or deficit reduction plan. These include people in the military and the police force, local council staff, state-owned media, etc.
It is of course unwise for a nation to spend far more than the amount it accrues; but it becomes more than a national catastrophe when the spending is on baseless things. It wouldn’t have bothered Ghanaians much if the money to be spent on the new parliamentarians had rather been used to tackle the high level of youth unemployment, the poor educational system, and/or the huge water and electricity problems.
I was certainly not one of the best mathematicians in class, but I had and still have absolutely no problems when it comes to addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. So working out the estimated amount of money that the creation of 45 new constituencies and of course parliamentarians will be costing the hardworking taxpayer annually, shouldn’t give me headache at all.
It is gathered that MPs with no ministerial appointments are paid at least 3000 new Ghana cedi monthly (they are in fact currently demanding 7000+ cedis). This does not include the cost of managing their offices, travel and miscellaneous expenses, and other allowances.
If we multiply 3000 by 45 (MPs), we get a total of 135000; and 135000 multiplied by 12 (months) leaves us with an annual total of 1620000.
It is estimated that the annual cost of running/managing the office of a single MP, is in the region of 14400+; and multiplying this amount by 45 (MPs) gives us a total of 648000. Now 1620000 plus 648000, is equal to 2268000 (which is approximately 2.3 million new Ghana cedi). This again does not include miscellaneous expenses and the so-called ex-gratia that they will be enjoying after leaving office.
What is the sense in spending over 2.2 million cedis annually on some so-called honourables who will clearly be doing almost nothing in their constituencies to deserve that title? And what is the logic in creating new constituencies when we already have DCEs (District Chief Executives) and Assembly men and women in almost all the districts in the country; and when all these people are paid from the taxpayer’s wallet/purse.
It is understood that Ghana’s debt has ballooned to approximately 26 billion cedis; creating 45 new constituencies is thus a waste of the taxpayer’s hard-earned money, and a recipe for total economic hardship and disaster.
The people of Ghana are asking the Electoral Commission and the government to come out and convincingly explain and justify the rationale behind the creation of the purported 45 constituencies.
Emmanuel Sarpong Owusu-Ansah (Black Power) is an Investigative Journalist, a researcher and the author of Fourth Phase of Enslavement (2011) and In My End is My Beginning (2012). He may be contacted via email (email@example.com).