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Yes, Scrap MP’s Share Of Common Fund
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Following the successful rollout of the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy by the President Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, it has attracted commendations, as well as suggestions for its sustenance from many well-meaning Ghanaians.

One suggestion that has caught everybody’s attention is the call on government to scrap the percentage of the Assemblies' Common Fund allocated to Members of Parliament (MPs) and invest the monies in the Free Senior High School policy.

Mr Daniel Acquah, a concerned parent who made the suggestion, explained that since there was no constitutional provision backing the MP’s Common Fund, coupled with the fact that they are not agents of development, it is appropriate the fund was abolished.

I fully endorse this proposal. I do so wholeheartedly because the success of the free SHS policy is very dear to the heart of every true patriot of this nation and I would, therefore, not hesitate in throwing my weight behind any move that would ensure its sustenance.

So far as I am aware, the District Assemblies’ Common Fund is a pool of resources created under Article 252 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana. The pool is provided with at least 7.5% of the national revenue set aside to be shared among all district assemblies in Ghana.

The constitution only requires Parliament to approve the formula for disbursement, and the various disbursements are to go to the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs).

Indeed, I vividly recall that some six years ago – in April 2011, to be precise – Prof Kwamena Ahwoi, a former Local Government and Rural Development Minister under the NDC regime, disclosed at a workshop with the Parliamentary Press Corps in Cape Coast that the decision to allocate part of the fund to MPs in 1997 was as a result of demands from MPs for some form of financial assistance to undertake development projects, to remove the incidence of DCEs “bluffing” them, but he was quick to add that the move was unconstitutional.

Throwing more light on the issue, Prof Ahwoi said since every pesewa of the public funds spent in the name of developing the country must be accounted for, and MPs seem to be an exception to that rule because they are individuals and as such do not have the capacity like ministries and other departments and agencies, they use the money anyhow and are not held accountable for its utilisation.

I am also aware that the legality or otherwise of the allocation of a portion of the District Assemblies’ Common Fund to Members of Parliament and Regional Co-ordinating Councils is currently subject of interpretation before our law courts.

The plaintiffs – John Ndebugri Awuni and Richard Kwadwo Nyarko – who are law students of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), dragged the Attorney-General to court on March 17, this year, seeking “a declaration that, on a true and proper interpretation of the Constitution, 1992, Members of Parliament and Regional Co-ordinating Councils are not beneficiaries of monies accruing to the District Assemblies’ Common Fund, which monies shall be distributed among the district assemblies on the basis of a formula approved by Parliament, and that previous acts and any prospective act of allocating any portions of monies accruing to the District Assemblies’ Common Fund to Members of Parliament, styled as Members of Parliament Common Fund or MPs’ Common Fund and Regional Co-ordinating Councils, is inconsistent with and sins against the letter and spirit of Articles 252 (1), (2), and (3) of the Constitution, 1992.”

They are also seeking an “interim injunction order restraining the District Assemblies’ Common Fund Administrator, his agents, assigns and servants from allocating or disbursing any portion or share of monies accruing to the District Assemblies’ Common Fund to Members of Parliament under any guise and Regional Co-ordinating Councils until the final determination of this suit.”

The formula for disbursement of the Common Fund allows MPs to receive four per cent of the total allocation to the fund, for purposes of initiating developmental projects in their constituencies and yet they are not accountable to anybody.

It is also common knowledge that most MPs claim that they use a large chunk of their money to pay the school fees of brilliant-but-needy children in their various constituencies. But with the implementation of the Free SHS policy, the MPs would be spared that ordeal and the monies would be better utilised in investing in the future of our children.

Furthermore, with government set to bring on board the ‘One Constituency, One Million Dollars’ policy, the continued allocation of separate funds to MPs, under the Common Fund, would be totally unnecessary and completely misplaced.

I, therefore, urge government to carefully appraise the pros and cons of the suggestion and scrap, forthwith, the allocation of funds to MPs in the name of the Common Fund.

Whichever way one looks at it, the free SHS policy is the biggest single social intervention this nation has witnessed since the attainment of independence some 60 years ago and it deserves the support of all and sundry to grow from strength to strength.
Source: The Finder

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