A Deputy Communication Director of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), John Boadu, and Managing Editor for the Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jr, have condemned the timing for the release of the over GH¢63.25 million as ex-gratia of MPs who served in the last parliament from January 6, 2009 to January 6, 2013.
Speaking on Peace FM’s Kokrokoo Friday, Kwesi Pratt Jr and John Boadu decried the lavish lifestyle of parliamentarians and said it was wrong for politicians to complain about government spending when in opposition, but do even worse when they assume power.
The approval of the GH¢63.25 million ex-gratia by government comes in the wake of agitations by labour unions for delays in the payment of their allowance, as well as dissatisfaction with service conditions and salaries under the Single Spine pay policy.
According to John Boadu, in the midst of the “strike crisis” currently befuddling the country, government have been insensitive to the situation in the country by awarding these huge payments. He said even if the payments were justifiable by the Constitution, the timing was bad. Kwesi Pratt Jr agrees with him.
Mr. Pratt questioned government on the basis of expediting these ex-gratia payments for parliamentarians but offering to pay striking UTAG members in installments.
He said the fundamental issue was how subsequent governments have stuck to the Constitutional provision which allow them to form a committee to review salaries of parliamentarians and the President.
In his view, even though the Constitution have not made this provision mandatory, the first thing any government have done since 1992 was to increase salaries of the President, parliamentarians and other officials.
These governments hurriedly increase salaries as if it was mandatory at the expense of the real mandatory provisions in the Constitution, he said.
Under the Financial Administration Act (Act 654, 2003) as amended by (Act 760, 2008), the Chief Justice is supposed to set up the Financial Administration Court to enforce recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Auditor-General’s reports as approved by Parliament.
According to him these are the mandatory Constitutional provisions to check corruption, and every conscientious government must uphold it.
He said another fundamental issue was the Constitutional provision allowing parliamentarians to approve the salaries of the President, while the President in turn approve the salaries of parliamentarians. This “scratch-my-back” arrangement is a major Constitutional flaw that must be checked.
In his view, if this same arrangement was extended to Doctors and Teachers, within the next 5 years these two professionals will be the highest paid workers in the country.
In Pratt’s view, there remain serious problems in the awarding of emoluments and benefits to government workers that needed a review.