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11.02.2009 Politics

Osei Aidoo to sue Mills over ex-gratia if...

By myjoyonline
Osei Aidoo to sue Mills over ex-gratia if...

The former Majority Leader in Parliament, Abraham Osei Aidoo, has threatened going to court if President Mills insists on cutting the emoluments of ex-government functionaries.

The threat by the former MP comes days after the President ordered a freeze of all ex-gratia payments set to be paid by the Controller and Accountant General.

The move by the President is believed to have been triggered by the enormous public outcry that greeted reports about the luxurious ex-gratia packages endorsed by Parliament for former government officials.

In a press statement released by the Office the President and signed by the Presidential Spokesperson Mahama Ayariga, Members of Parliament will in the mean time receive ex-gratia equivalent to four months' salary for each full year of service.

“The President has decided that instead of the payment of five months' salary to Members of Parliament for each full year of service in addition to a resettlement grant equivalent to two months, for every completed year of service recommended by Chinery Hesse Committee, they should be paid on account ex-gratia equivalent to four months' salary for each full year of service as has been the convention pending the submission of a report by the committee on emoluments,” the statement said.

But speaking to Joy FM on Wednesday Mr Osei Aidoo, who is no longer in Parliament, said any review by President Mills to the disadvantage of former officials would be resisted.

He maintained that it would be “legally and constitutionally wrong” for the current President to move for a review of end of service benefits of former MPs and government officials.

“A president has no mandate to determine the emoluments of ex-MPs. The current president has no mandate to determine my emoluments just like myself being an ex-MP, I have no mandate to determine the emoluments of the former President,” he said.

The former MP for Tema West insisted that the current president could only approve of benefit in respect of current government officials, upon the recommendation of a committee that the president would set up.

Mr Osei Aidoo also disclosed that former President Kufuor had, in a letter submitted to Parliament on January 6, 2009, approved benefits for former MPs, contrary to President Mills' statement that the Office of the President was not aware of any such approval.

Asked what he would do if the President insists on slashing the emoluments, Mr Osei Aidoo said the courts would then have to decide on the matter.

No legal basis
Meanwhile a legal expert Kofi Abotsi said former MPs would have no legal basis to ground their case because the constitution identifies “the President” and not “a specific president within a specific time frame.”

He said contrary to the stance of the former MP, the constitution recognises offices and not individuals.

“The constitution in this context is specific on the Office of the President,” he said.

Mr. Abotsi maintained that the constitutional provision meant any person who occupied the Office of the President had the powers of that office to within the confines of the law.

Story by Fiifi Koomson

The letter from the Office of the President
On Wednesday 4th February, 2009 the attention of HE the President was drawn to correspondence from the Ministry of Finance to the Controller and Accountant General to effect payment of ex-gratia awards, ex-vice presidents and ex-ministers of state and members of parliament as per the recommendations of the Chinery Hesse Committee report on emoluments.

Following investigations it has been established that there was no basis for proceeding with the ex-gratia payments as recommended by the Chinery Hesse Committee. Under Article 71 of the 1992 constitution, payment of emoluments to the Legislature as recommended by a statutory presidential committee on emoluments has to be approved by the President whilst those of the Executive and ministers have to be approved by Parliament.

However the Presidency has not seen any approval for the payment for Members of Parliament by the previous government while there is controversy over the approval of the recommendations in respect of the Executive.

It therefore came as a surprise to the Presidency that Hon Moses Asaga, a member of a three-member team holding temporary responsibility for the Ministry of Finance, was purported to have authorised payment in spite of the clear absence of legal authority.

Consequently, HE the President ordered a withdrawal of the purported approval and withdrew the nomination of Hon Asaga as minister-designate for the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing.

Having considered all the circumstances surrounding the matter, the President has decided to set up, in consultation with the Council of State, when it is established, a committee on emoluments, as stipulated under Article 71 of the 1992 constitution to revisit the issue of emoluments to the specified public office holders.

The recommendations of the committee will then form the basis for the final decision on the ex-gratia awards. The committee will be given one month for its work.

In the mean time, HE the President has decided that instead of the payment of five months' salary to Members of Parliament for each full year of service in addition to a resettlement grant equivalent to two months, for every completed year of service recommended by Chinery Hesse Committee they should be paid on account ex-gratia equivalent to four months' salary for each full year of service as has been the convention pending the submission of a report by the committee on emoluments.

Recommendations in respect of all others covered by the Chinery Hesse committee report will be determined after the submission of report of the new committee.

Signed
Hon. Mahama Ayariga, Presidential Spokesperson

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