02.06.2002 Feature Article

Open letter to the president

Open letter to the president
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Dear Mr President

You promised a POSITIVE CHANGE in the miserable lives Ghanaians, including the notorious Armed Forces that have disturbed our political development in a significant way. After one-and-half years in office I think it is fair to say Ghana has been lifted from imminent economic disaster and political uncertainty. You have made some positive changes, albeit modest, in the Armed Forces thus far. Your government has increased the daily allowance of soldiers from $16 to $20, created an ambulance unit at 37 Military Hospital and, refurbishing accomodation and offices of soldiers. Another big development is the phased release of over-aged personnel that had become a liability on the Armed Forces. With regards to the mission allowance, it is demoralising though that a private soldier and his CO take the same amount per day - no motivation. It needs to be looked at again because we'll all agree that they don't have same responsibilit! ies and therefore cannot have the same rewards. Other countries have worked something out in spite of what the UN pays. We need to learn from others to make the Armed Forces a revered instituion in the country.

It may however appear that His Excellency has forgotten or overlooked another outrageous policy that your predecessor introduced to extort monies from officers who undertake UN missions as military observers. For your information the 20% deduction of the UN Mission Subsistence Allowance (MSA) of officers still continues with impunity. Or is it with your approval and consent? The money is meant for the upkeep of the personnel in the mission area, but given the difficult financial situation at home personnel manage to save something to improve their lot on their return. This is what is taxable back home. The policy is illegal and outrageous, and the earlier you abolish it the better. Otherwise soon the government may find itself in court defending the indefensible. Please we don't want another legal embarrassment. We can avoid it. All developed nations give huge risk allowances to their personnel in mission area. Even ! other African countries such as Kenya also pay their military observers huge sums of per diem in addition to the MSA to ensure that they are comfortable. Do we have to rob our personnel of the little they get when we can not give any additional allowance from home? This explains why a lot of our officers on such missions live like paupers. Mr President, it is disgraceful and not good for your government nor the country.

May God grant you divine wisdom to take the appropriate decision.

Best Regards

K Fii Views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of Ghanaweb.

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