Former President John Mahama has waded into the ongoing debate concerning the formalisation of emoluments for the spouses of the President and his Vice.

According to him, should government wish to formalise these allowances, it must, with a matter of urgency, establish an Independent Emolument Committee (IEC) to create legislation that will back these payments.

“I believe that instead of trying to unconstitutionally enlarge the scope of Article 71 office holders for the purposes of determining emoluments, the Government must as a matter of urgency set up the Independent Emoluments Commission,” he said.

John Mahama explained that the establishment of an Independent Emoluments Commission was part of recommendations made by the Constitution Review Commission in 2011.

He said, “It was endorsed in the Government’s White Paper, and both the Edu-Bandoh and Ntiamoa-Baidu Committees made a case for its urgent establishment. In fact, I am on record to have championed this position.”

He stated that should the proposed IEC be established, the Commission would bring an end to set up a new committee every four years and ensure that salary administration in the country is rationalised, and equity is brought into the system.

However, the Former President believed that to expand the scope of Article 71 to include the spouses of the President and his Vice while the country is still battling severe economic hardship “would appear unreasonable.”

Meanwhile, John Mahama has made clear his opposition to the initiative.

Citing a debate on an amendment to the Assets Declaration Law to expand its ambit to include the spouses of public office holders, which the then-Parliamentarian Akuo-Addo had vehemently opposed as reference for his opposition to the initiative, he said:

“Leading those who vehemently opposed the inclusion of spouses was President Akufo-Addo. I remember one of the main thrusts of his argument was that a spouse could not have known that their partner would end up in the high office at the time they got married. It would therefore be unfair to subject them to the hazards of an assets declaration regime (it would be in the Hansard somewhere).

“Have the chickens come home to roost? A spouse may not have known that their partner would end up in the high office at the time of marriage, so would it not be unfair to bestow upon them salaries as part of their husband’s emoluments in office?”

He concluded by calling on the ruling government to apply due diligence should they decide to “ignore the cries of the citizenry, as seems to be the pattern of the day” and award the emoluments.

“Finally, it has also been indicated that the First and Second Ladies have been receiving allowances from 2017 to date. Should the government choose to ignore the cries of the citizenry, as seems to be the pattern of the day, steps must then be taken to ensure that the Committee’s recommendations are not retroactively applied, leading to double payments,” he said.