The National Democratic Congress (NDC) government has beaten a hasty retreat from paying ex-ministers, deputy ministers and the famed Article 71office holders their ex-gratia awards.
In a statement released on Monday and signed by the Minister of Information and Media Relations, Mahama Ayariga, the Executive would only receive their ex-gratia after all the agitation for payment of arrears on the labour front subsides.
‘Ministers and deputy ministers may only receive their ex-gratia when the concerns of other non-Article 71 office holders have been equally attended to,’ explained the Minister of Information.
This comes in the wake of public discontent over the discovery that the NDC government has authorized the payment of over GHC50million even though it has given series of excuses on why it could not pay workers their salary arrears.
Each member of the last Parliament was paid an ex-gratia averaging a whooping GHC275,000 for the past four years that they served in the Ghanaian Legislature.
This payment has generated heated discontent on the labour front where doctors, teachers, pharmacists, university teachers, judicial service workers and other public sector workers are fighting for outstanding payments.
The workers and several critics have concluded that that the government lacks the capacity to set its priorities right because while the workers were agitating for their payments, the Mahama-led NDC had appealed to them to bear with it because public coffers ‘have been chewed down to the bones.’
The Minister of Information in the statement, tried to dispel this apparent double standards: ‘The allegations in some media discussions that members of the political elite have paid themselves lump sum ex-gratia awards and yet are asking other public servants to accept instalment payment for arrears of their 2012 allowances is untrue,’ he said.
John Boadu, a deputy Communications Director of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) in a telephone conversation with DAILY GUIDE on Monday felt the government had not been entirely forthcoming with information and disagreed with impressions that it was due to government’s sensitivity that made it pay the parliamentarians their ex-gratia and withhold those of the Executive arm.
According to Mr. Boadu, government had paid the ex-gratia of parliamentarians since November last year, and would have been kept under wraps if labour agitations had not gone out of hand: ‘We must be told rather than using Parliamentarians as the punching bag,’ he charged.
John Boadu believed that despite the gesture to withhold the Executive ex-gratia payment, the NDC’s wage bill was still less than gratifying as former Presidential advisors still paraded along the corridors of power and were still getting paid ‘for no work done’.
‘Have they been removed?’ John Boadu asked, ‘If not, they are being paid for no work done,’ he said, referring to Presidential aides of the late President Evans Atta Mills, who are alleged to be drawing salaries every month from the presidency.
By Raphael Ofori-Adeniran