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07.02.2009 Politics

'Asaga is a victim of populism' - Kwaku Baako

By myjoyonline
'Asaga is a victim of populism' - Kwaku Baako

The Editor in Chief of the Crusading Guide newspaper, Malik Kwaku Baako says Mr. Moses Asaga is a “victim of a certain level of populism, emotionalism and unenlightened appreciation of the situation.”

He said the passion with which members of the NDC injected into the debate over the Chinery Hesse report left the government no choice but to make Asaga a victim.

Mr. Asaga was nominated for the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing but was withdrawn for approving the controversial Chinery Hesse Committee report.

However, speaking on Joy FM's News Analysis Porgramme, Newsfile, Mr. Baako said the farce being made about Mr. Asaga's approval of the retirement package for ex-presidents was borne of ignorance.

He explained that the recommendations made by the Chinery Hesse Committee was in two parts – “the facilities and privileges which is the second report which Parliament approved on January 6, 2009 and there is the emoluments package which Parliament approved much earlier.”

The first phase of the report which deals with emoluments which was approved earlier was being implemented since 2005, and Members of Parliament who were supposed to benefit from the package did so.

The new government after taking over power suspended all payments by all government agencies but later revoked that suspension allowing statutory payments to be made.

“Asaga's signature was to do with…a statutory payment within the context of an already approved package. The Chief Director of the Ministry of Finance is the one who proceeded to give him this thing to sign because it had already been approved and that is the procedure.”

Mr. Malik Baako said he had sighted letters dated September 20, 2006, and signed by a former Deputy Finance Minister, Prof. George Gyan Baffuor “indicating that in view of the acceptance of the Chinery Hesse Report relative to emoluments the Controller and Accountant General was being instructed to start effecting payment with effect from 1st January 2005.”

This payment, he argues was in line with the new figures recommended by the committee which Parliament had approved.

“So all those Article 71 office holders… including the former president (Rawlings) then started enjoying this dispensation,” he emphasized.

He stressed that Asaga's signature was not to endorse the Chinery Hesse report of January 6, 2009, which generated the public outcry but the first phase of the report which had been in existence since 2005.

The social commentator said Mr. Asaga probably was the one who signed the letter because “having worked at the ministry (of Finance) before Asaga was held up at the ministry constantly so the Chief Director found it necessary to send it to him.

“He thought that was a routine, he is been there before, he knows how this thing works and that (phase of the report) he knew had already had Parliamentary approval anyway so what was the big deal, he signed it thinking nothing will go wrong because it had nothing to do with the second phase, the facilities and privileges, the one we made so much noise about.”

Seeking to absolve Mr. Asaga of any wrong doing, Mr. Baako said the letter was singed on January 16, by which time the second phase of the Chinery Hesse report and its recommendations had not become a public controversy.

The Crusading Guide boss said it was unfortunate that the Nabdam MP who rendered the NDC dedicated service should be sacrificed over such misunderstanding of the issues.

Story by Malik Abass Daabu