Wednesday, April 27, 2016

CSOs, Others Divided Over Emoluments Of Article 71 Holders

Prez John Mahama

Representatives of civil society organisations, trade unions, civil servants, traditional and religious leaders at a forum in Tamale, have expressed strong but divergent opinions on the emoluments of Ghana’s Article 71 office holders who are paid far greater than the average Ghanaian civil servant.

While some thought that the salaries of Article 71 office holders were on the high side and for that matter should be slashed, others on the contrary thought that what such officials currently earned should be maintained and should never ever be adjusted in the next decade.

Some were also of the view that the status-quo should either be reviewed downwards to meet current economic challenges or it should be scrapped completely so that ‘reasonable salaries’ could be determined for all the Article 71 office holders currently at post and those who would be there in future.

Article 71 office holders include the president, the vice president, the speaker of parliament, the chief justice and justices of the Supreme Court. The rest are members of parliament, ministers of state, political appointees and other public servants with salaries charged to the consolidated fund but enjoying special constitutional privileges.

The Tamale forum was organised by the Presidential Committee on Emoluments (PCE) chaired by Professor Dora Francisca Edu-Buandoh. Other members of the Committee are Professor Kwamena Ahwoi, Dr. William Baah Boateng, Mrs. Norkor Duah and Mrs. Lydia Bawa.

The Committee was appointed by President John Dramani Mahama in accordance with Article 71 (1) of the 1992 Constitution, to determine the emoluments of Article 71 office holders. Trade Unionist Napoleon Kpoh is a Consultant assisting the committee, while Rudolf Kuuzegh is Secretary to the Committee.

Members of The PEC.
The current Article 71 office holders, Savannahnews gathers, earn between GH¢5,000.00 and GH¢20,000.00 a month. For instance, current ministers of state and parliamentarians earn between GH¢7,000.00 and GH¢10,000.00 a month.   

These huge salaries of the Article 71 office holders is said to have accounted for the country’s huge wage bill (over 70 percent of revenue generated) being used to pay both civil servants and Article 71 office holders numbering around 500,000. 

But labour unions also argue that the huge wage bill is as a result of the huge salaries being paid to Article 71 members and other government appointees as well as ghost workers on government’s payroll. 

Moreover, most participants agreed that it would be costly for government to take up the salaries of drivers of parliamentarians. Thus, they insist parliamentarians should continue to pay for the services of their drivers since the vehicles they use are their personal property and not for the state. 

Meanwhile, the Northern Regional Minister Abdallah Abubakari commended the Committee for providing the opportunity for the general public and CSOs in the North to express their views, opinions and comments on the level of emoluments they believe, was deserving of Article 71 officer holders.

“The effort to consult widely on the issue is therefore most appropriate and timely and it demonstrates the commitment of government to seek a consensus on the matter rather than resorting to any unilateral position”, the minister said.

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