President John Mahama has appointed a new five-member committee to recommend his compensation package including emoluments and ex-gratia and that of other Article 71 office holders.
Apart from the president and his vice, other public officers whose emoluments are determined under Article 71 of the 1992 Constitution include Members of Parliament, Ministers of State, the Chairman and Members of the Electoral Commission, and judges among other high-profile officers.
The committee, which has already been inaugurated by the president, has Professor Dora Francisca Edu- Buandoh as the chairperson, with Kwamena Ahwoi, a former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Dr William Baah Boateng, Mrs Norkor Duah and Ms Lydia Bawa, Insurance Commissioner, as members.
The committee is expected to be assisted by Napoleon Kpoh, formerly of Industrial Commercial Workers Union (ICU), as Consultant and Rudolf Kuuzegh as Secretary.
With the appointment of Prof. Edu- Buandoh, she becomes the fifth woman to head such a committee since the 1992 Constitution came into force and is the fourth such committee in the last eight years.
In recent past, there has been the Prof Miranda Greenstreet Committee set up by then President J.J. Rawlings, the Chenery Hesse Committee set up by then President John Agyekum Kufuor as well as the Ishmael Yamson Committee which was set up by then President J.E.A Mills to review the Chenery Hesse Report.
Later, President Mills appointed Prof Ewurama Addy to determine the emoluments of Article 71 office holder under his presidency before the current Prof. Edu- Buandoh Committee was set up by President Mahama last week.
The persistent setting up of committees to recommend the emoluments of Article 71 office holders has raised eyebrows since in many jurisdictions, it took decades for similar committees to be set up.
Prof. Stephen Kwaku Asare, an America-trained law lecturer at GIMPA Law School, said that “by way of contrast, the compensation package of the USA President has been revised only 5 times since it was first determined in 1789.
“This raises the perennial question of the propriety of allowing a President to set up a Committee to recommend his compensation package and the frequency with which such Committees are set up.
“We must read the Constitution with some common sense (equity) to disallow the President and Parliament from increasing their compensation packages during their term. In other words, whenever a Committee is set up, its recommendations must come into prospective effect.”
He added: “By the same reasoning, we should read the Constitution to bar the President from being able to increase the compensation package of so called independent constitutional officers (e.g., the EC members, Superior Court members, etc.) during his term.
“In light of the above reasoning, we should also read the Constitution to mean such Committees must be established periodically, perhaps every decade.”
By William Yaw Owusu