A Catholic Priest at Akyem Ntronang, Reverend Father Ignatius James Yaw Amponsah, has admonished Ghanaians to find a judicious way of using the country’s resources to improve upon the living standards of the citizenry, especially the poor.
His comments came in wake of Parliament’s approval of allowances for First and Second Ladies of the country, following recommendations by Emoluments Committee to formalize same. In other words, that Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo and Mrs Samira Bawumia, spouses of Nana Akufo-Addo and Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia respectively, receive salaries pegged at Cabinet Ministers’.
Although there have been negative reactions from the general public and some policy experts, who have argued that the two Ladies are not Article 71 office holders to qualify for salaries, the government’s spokesperson, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, stated that it has been the practice since the year 2000, except it has not been legally backed with documentation.
“President Kufuor in his wisdom, instituted this because of the bad situations of some spouses of some former Heads of States then. Presidents Mills and Mahama even increased the rates of these benefits during their time.
“The truth of the matter is that all surviving spouses of Heads of State, current and former, have always received salaries. Lordina Mahama, Naadu Mills, Matilda Amissah-Arthur, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, Faustina Acheampong, Fulera Liman etc have all been receiving salaries since President Kufuor’s time.
“What has happened now is that the arrangement has been made formal but that was done legally based on the recommendation by the Emoluments Committee,” the Information Minister said.
However, adding his voice to that of the dissident publics, Rev. Fr. Ignatius described the move by government as an avenue for politicians to amass wealth for their parochial interests.
“Today, if Ghanaians are asked to pay salaries to the 1st & 2nd Ladies, inspite of their many privileges; it is nothing else but, confirmation of the fact that, partisan politics, is a business enterprise, that some people established to amass wealth for themselves, family members, friends and to stack money somewhere, for the next elections,” he stated.
That in view, he said the practice will not inure to the benefit of the general public, especially the section of Ghanaians and Africans, who are indigent and without voice, for which reason he urges all to review how issues and resources are managed.
“There is no way partisan politics can help liberate the poor of Ghana and Africa as a whole, from excessive exploitation, abject poverty, slavery and misery.
“Let’s begin to consider a better system of managing the affairs and resources of Ghana and Africa as a whole,” he said.
The Emoluments Committee
In June 2019, President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, inaugurated a five-member committee to make recommendations to him and to Parliament on the salaries and allowances payable, and the facilities and privileges available to article 71 office holders.
The composition of the Committee, done on the advice of the Council State, was chaired by Prof. Yaa Ntiamoa Baidu, an eminent scientist and marine conservationist, former pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Legon, and Chairperson of the Board of the Millennium Development Authority.
The other members were Abraham Ossei Aidooh, former Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, and one-time Member of Parliament for Tema West; Dr. Edward Kwapong, currently Chief Executive of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission; Dr. Eric Odruo Osae, a Chartered Accountant and Lawyer, and UNDP technical advisor to the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development; and Mrs Stella Segbawu, former Managing Director, Donewell Life Insurance Co. Ltd.
The Committee’s tasks were to make recommendations in respect of emoluments and other privileges for article 71 office holders, as specified under the Constitution; and to examine any other relevant matter which the Committee deemed appropriate to its work.
Meanwhile, preceeding the Baidoo-Committee, were those set up by previous governments for similar purposes. Among the committees were those led by Miranda Greenstreet, Mary Chinery-Hesse, Ishmael Yamson, Marian Ewurama Addy, and Francisca Edu-Buandoh, whose works President Akufo-Addo urged the current committee to refer to, in order to be able to establish consistencies.