FWSC Thrown Out Over Ex-MPs’ Cash

Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC)

An Accra High Court (Labour Divison) has dismissed an application for joinder filed by the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) in the case in which 40 former Members of Parliament (MPs) have sued the government over their accrued monthly pension pay since January 2009.

The court, presided over by Justice Gifty Dekyem, held that FWSC is not a necessary party to be joined to the suit.

In the view of the court, the matter could be determined without the commission being a party to the suit.

Justice Dekyem, dismissing the FWSC’s application, awarded a GH¢5,000 against it.

Lawyers of the commission had in a motion for joiner dated March 29, 2017, argued that they were not completely excluded from all matters relating to emoluments in Article 71 office holders and that the plaintiffs’ statement as captured in their affidavit in opposition to the application, was incorrect.

FWSC had stated that in any event, its exclusion from determining the emoluments of Article 71 office holders does not necessarily imply that its presence in the suit would not assist or enable the court to effectively determine the matter in dispute.

The commission, among other things, posited that matters regarding the content of the Chinery-Hesse and Ishmael Yamson’s reports and whether Ishmael Yamson’s report varied the pension provision contained in the Chinery-Hesse report, are material facts for trial and which the applicant by its mandate, is better positioned to prove during the trial and which consequently makes it a necessary party in the suit.

The former MPs sued the government for the claim of GH¢233,495 each, being their accrued monthly pension pay.

The amount being claimed works out to GH¢13,735 per person per month, but interest accrued during the 85 months raises the amount to GH¢233,495 each.

With the suit before the court, the MPs are collectively demanding GH¢9,339,800 from the government.

The basis of the legal action by the 40 former MPs is the Chinnery-Hesse Presidential Emoluments Committee (PEC) which provides that parliamentarians who were 50 years and above and exited parliament, having served two full terms, should be paid some sums of money as pension benefits.

Some notable names among the 40 former MPs are Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, Dr Kwame Ampofo, Kwamena Bartels, Freddie  Blay, Kenneth Dzirasah, Christine Churcher, Isaac E. Edumadze and Nkrabea Effah-Darteh.

Joined to the suit as defendants are the Attorney General (AG) and the Minister of Finance.

The plaintiffs, in their statement of claim, averred that since 2011 they had been negotiating with the government, through the ministry of finance and the leadership of parliament, for aspects of the Chinnery-Hesse Committee report in relation to their pensions to be paid, but the negotiations, they claimed, had proved futile.

“Several attempts, demands or requests made on the government to have these pension benefits paid to the plaintiffs have proved futile,” they said.

According to the plaintiffs, based on a letter dated June 25, 2015, the AG directed the Ministry of Finance to make payments to them but the ministry had “refused, neglected or failed to pay the said money to the plaintiffs.”

The action of the ministry, the former MPs added, continued to cause them distress, as most of them remained unemployed because of old age and were, therefore, unable to sustain their families.

The former MPs said on November 24, 2015, a notice to institute civil action was served on the state, but the AG, apart from a letter dated December 22, 2015 which acknowledged receipt of the suit, had failed to respond.

 

By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson

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