Ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor has chided critics of the ex-gratia to MPs and former state executives, saying their outcry is just “noise”.
The former president confirmed signing the 'controversial' Chinenry Hesse Committee report on emolument for former office holders in an interview with Joy FM on Thursday; a moment after President Atta Mills had delivered the “State of the Nation Address” to Parliament.
“We are making too much noise about the ex-gratia, which in a way is a provision of our constitution,” he opined.
He blamed the “stagnation” of the country's economy to what he quipped: “Ghana we pretend to pay and workers pretend to work.”
Former President Kufuor who attended the address with his wife, Theresa, noted the need for a Ghanaian labourer to be given a worthy pay which should be tantamount to his work.
Mr. Kufuor who was a member of parliament in the late 60s, and perhaps abreast with the nature of work in the house, emphatically stressed that the work of parliament “is so difficult”; pointing to the fact that what was recommended in the report and signed by him was in order.
He said Ghanaian legislators' monthly salary of “not more than GH¢2,700” is not befitting, and thus “really doesn't reflect well of our nation at all”.
He said at the end of “hectic and demanding” term of four years and the state deemed it fit to say “thank you” with an emolument of GH¢80,000 to a parliamentarian, that should not attract the kind of criticism it is receiving now.
“If anybody will say that is extravagant, then I am telling you, you do not know the value of the work of parliament.”
He admonished: “So let's keep quiet and try to investigate to know what we are talking about.”
Touching on what President Mills described as extravagant spending by the previous administration, which he said among others contributed to the high indebtedness of the nation, ex-President Kufuor called on interested parties to find out “for what was the debt taken”.
He explained that loans contracted by his government were used “productively” for infrastructural development which he said are manifest across the country.
“The expenditure, I can assure you in my time is different from expenditure in earlier days before I came on the scene. We borrowed to build and to build productively. This is how to grow the economy.”
Former President Kufuor defended the purchase of two aircraft during his tenure in office, which the current government says it will review and reduce to buying only one.
Kufuor said his government paid only one million dollars for one aircraft which would be due in February next year; provided the government is willing to pay the balance.
The second plane would arrive in 2011 but Mr Kufuor threw a challenge: “I am telling you we should wait and see if the president then will say government doesn't need a plane then we shouldn't bother”.
Story by Isaac Essel