About 115 Ghanaian soldiers, who returned into the country after serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, are angry at how their paymasters paid them their allowances.
The Ghanaian Battalion (Ghanbatt 3) troops, who usually receive their end of operations dollar allowances in the countries where they serve, said they were paid upon arrival in Ghana on Thursday, February 18, under floodlight.
The Ghanbatt 3 soldiers were earlier paid half of their allowances after serving six out of 12 months in South Sudan. They were expected to receive the rest after completing the whole one-year exercise, which ended last week.
According to the aggrieved soldiers, upon completion of the service, the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) paid each soldier $5,000 balance in lower denominations, which they said would affect the value of the money when they converted the money into Ghana cedis at the forex market – as they don’t operate dollar account.
They claimed that they were paid in lower denominations as a ploy to cheat them so that they would lose part of the money at the forex bureau.
Some soldiers said they had to go through the trouble of carrying their remaining allowances in $10 denomination compressed into sacks to the forex market before they could get the local currency equivalent of what they had.
Others accused the finance officer of the GAF of using the monies due them for private transactions and later breaking them down in smaller denominations before giving them out.
But the GAF told DAILY GUIDE that the finance officer pays the peacekeeping troops based on the denominations they receive from the Bank of Ghana (BoG), adding that the payment in $10 denomination was in compliance with a new directive by the Ministry of Finance and the BoG.
The GAF disclosed that BoG usually pre-financed the allowances of the troops before the UN reimburses them.
“The troops received their allowance here in Ghana because as at the time they were leaving South Sudan, the BoG had not received the monies from the UN so they pre-financed. The BoG would be reimbursed once the UN releases the money and this is what happens most of the time,” a military source told this paper.
He added that the troops who recently returned from Mali, also received their allowances in lower denominations for serving with the United Nations Mission there.
The peace keeping allowance is a major source of revenue to cushion soldiers.
By Nii Ogbamey Tetteh