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31 August 2005 | Feature Article

Letter From The President: Living large without pay

Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponents,

What is this I hear that some government officials have not been paid – some for as long as eight months? Nobody brought this to my attention. I only read about it in the newspapers last week. And I was shocked. I was shocked to read that most DCEs have not received a single paycheck since the beginning of the year. According to the news report I read, the unpaid government officials are having a tough time taking care of their families. The report even suggested that some DCEs have not been able to pay their children's school fees. The implicit message was that some DCEs have had their wards thrown out of classes for non-payment of school fees.

As far as I am concerned all the government officials and DCEs in Sikaman are very well-fed – their stomachs are growing bigger and they are generally growing fatter. I know of a DCE who looked like a broomstick at the time of his appointment at the beginning of the year. Now he looks like a mahogany trunk. In fact, the DCEs do no look like hungry people at all. On the contrary they look rather well-fed and content. They even look much healthier now than when they were appointed to their lofty positions. I've done some investigations and I can confirm that no DCE has had his child thrown out of class – no teacher will dare tell a DCEs child to go home because his school fees has not been paid. Unless, of course, the teacher wants to lose his job and experience what it feels like to spend a night in a police cell.

But it still bothers me that DCEs have not been paid their salaries and the finance minister now says they are “going to do something about it”. What is going on? The situation has so annoyed me that I am thinking of setting up a probe to investigate this whole saga of government officials not being paid their salaries for month. The probe would have two main points of reference. First, I will like the probe to find out and expose the people whose negligence resulted in the non-payment of the salaries of DCEs, special assistants and deputy ministers. I am taking this matter very serious because failing to pay senior public servants, especially DCEs, is tantamount to ushering them into a golden age of corruption. The DCEs are often tempted to engage in numerous acts of corruption. We know that they like awarding contracts to their favorites without any regard for laid down procedures. They never miss an opportunity to demand kickbacks for the contracts they award. Failing to pay their salaries will only encourage them to do what we are discouraging them from doing. So I want to know whose negligence (or stupidity) created this mess of many government officials going without pay for all this while.

Secondly, I will like the probe to investigate how the DCEs have been coping without pay. Unless, they've been helping themselves to other people's money, I don't understand why the government officials have been keeping quite over the non-payment of their salaries. Having gone for months without pay, I would have expected the DCEs to be complaining and staging “wahala” demonstrations across the country. I would have expected some of them to have defected by now or issuing threats of their plans to defect. But none of this has happened, indicating to me that all is well with them. And it's true all is well with them – their potbellies are growing bigger and some of them are building new houses. So I want to know why is it that while those who are getting paid regularly are complaining about how “things have become hard”, DCEs who have not been paid for eight months are keeping mum with their hands in their “damirifa” and acquiring new property. I don't really think there is any truth in the DCEs claims that they can't feed their households and some of them have not been able to pay their wards school fees. As I've indicated, I have met a lot of DCEs who look rather well-fed for people who have not been paid in eight months. I therefore insist that should explain why their potbellies are growing bigger (instead of reducing) with their salaries held up. I am tempted to assume that they are dipping their hands indiscriminately into the common fund and engaging in other financial malpractises to make ends meet.

At the end of the probe therefore, we should be able to punish those officials whose negligence (and stupidity) has resulted in the delays in the payment of the DCEs' salaries, thereby ushering the DCEs into a golden era of corruption. I believe that we will find a lot of DCEs who might have helped themselves to some public funds as well. And the they should also be punished.

Having said all that I pray that the probe exonerates all my DCEs. I will be so happy to be told that even though they've not been paid for months, none of the DCEs have dipped their hands in assembly coffers or engaged in other financial malpractises. If they are exonerated I will throw a big party for them and use the occasion to urge all Sikaman citizens to emulate their examples. If DCEs can go without pay for months and resist all temptations to be corrupt, every citizen must be able to do the same. For all you know, the delays in the payment of the salaries of the DCEs could be a blessing in disguise. We can use it for propaganda purposes – especially in those times when the kitty is empties and we are unable to pay workers. Furthermore, when workers demand pay increases and decide to take to the streets we can simply ask them to go and ask their DCEs whether they've been paid. We will even go further to caution them that the fact that they've not been paid doesn't give them any justification to go out there and be corrupt.

In the meantime, however, we need to first establish why the DCEs have not been paid and whether their hands are still clean. I suspect many of them will not pass the test. You want to bet?

Excellently yours,

J. A. Fukuor Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

quot-img-1Experience in itself is not the best teacher, but rather a school with two teachers; SUCCESS and FAILURE.

By: Papa Kwesi Monney quot-img-1