Member of Parliament for South Dayi, Rockson Nelson Dafeamekpor, has revealed that the Minority suggested the removal of the recommendation in respect of payment of salary to spouses of the President and his Vice from the report submitted by the Emoluments Committee.
According to him, this suggestion was made prior to the approval of the Committee’s report.
He explained that the Minority based its suggestion on the fact that there was no basis in the 1992 Constitution to pay the First Lady and the wife of the Vice President, thus it was unconstitutional to approve the report.
“We said that is totally unconstitutional because there is no basis in the Constitution that permits the Prof Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee to even venture into such an area. So to that extent, that particular recommendation ought to be struck out or deleted from the report, so we could go ahead and approve.”
“The Majority at the time and still the Majority now refused, and so by the shear numbers, they overwhelmed the Minority led by the Honourable Muntaka in this matter. So the 123 page report was approved,” he said.
Responding to criticism on why the Minority did not raise the alarm after the Parliamentary nod, Mr Dafeamekpor said that despite the approval, the report remained a “mere” recommendation until the President directed the Finance Ministry to take steps to give effect to it.
“That was when we realized that the law has truly been breached, so we needed to have it struck out. Where do you do it? It has to go to court,” he added.
The South Dayi MP alongside two others, Dr Clement Apaak of Builsa South and Frederick Nii Commey, have filed a suit at the Supreme Court over approval of salaries for the spouses of the President and Vice President.
This was after government indicated that Parliament has approved the report of the Emoluments Committee.
Joy Research’s digging into the work of the Emoluments Committee found that it actually recommended that the existing module of paying the spouses without a legal basis should be regularised.
“The Committee recommends that the support extended to spouses of Presidents/former Presidents Vice Presidents/former Vice Presidents be regularized and included in the privileges of Presidents/former Presidents/Vice Presidents/former Vice Presidents,” parts of the report reads.
The Committee chaired by Prof Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu, therefore, included these allowances at the same level as pertains to the salary level for President and Vice President.
Mr Dafeamekpor had earlier stated that the report recommended that “if the President served one term then the spouse will be paid a salary equivalent to 87% of the salary of a cabinet minister or an MP who is the cabinet minister.”
“The other recommendation says that if the President served two full terms then the spouse will be paid a 100% salary equivalent to the salary of a minister of state who is also an MP.”
Thus, he and the others are seeking a total of eight reliefs from the Supreme Court including a declaration that the recommendations of the Committee that pertains to the first and second ladies are null, void, and of no effect and a declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of the Constitution, 1992, spouses of the President and the Vice President are not Article 71 office holders for the purposes of receipt of wages and emoluments.
Mr Dafeamekpor told Evans Mensah that if the government wants to strongly pay spouses of the President and the Vice, then they should present a bill to parliament.
“Hon Muntaka told them they were using the backdoor approach so they should come with a bill,” he added.
Meanwhile, Former Chief Executive Officer of the Volta River Authority (VRA), Charles Wereko Brobbey, has petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin to call on the House to suspend the payment of monthly allowances to incumbent spouses of the President and his Vice.
In a letter to the Speaker, Dr. Brobbey stated that given the uncertainties about the legalities, it would be prudent to suspend all budgetary allocations, disbursements among others until the Supreme Court has determined the constitutional propriety of Parliament’s decision to pay salaries to the presidential spouses.
He wrote, “if indeed Parliament has approved such payments, I will be grateful if you could educate me as to the legal authority that underpinned Parliament’s action.”
“As far as I know, neither the first nor second ladies are elected officers or appointed under article 71 of the 4th Republican Constitution. It is my contention that every payment charged to the Consolidated Fund must be in line with the laws of the country.”
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