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15.01.2010 Editorial

Gov`t must bow head in shame

Gov`t must bow head in shame
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Following the protests that greeted the Chinery-Hesse Report, which outlined retirement benefits for former Presidents and other state functionaries, and claims by some Members of Parliament (MPs) that they never approved such a report, President Mills appropriately decided to suspend its implementation, and set up a committee to study the Report.

The Dr. Ishmael Yamson Committee was tasked to review the Chinery-Hesse Report. The committee subsequently submitted its report to the President, after they had finished with their work.

The Yamson Committee reduced the benefits that were prescribed by the Chinery-Hesse Report for former Presidents and Parliamentarians, and just before Parliament approved the 2010 budget, reports came out that some of its members had been paid their ex-gratia.

The Minority side of the House, did not only confirm the report, but went further to state that they did not know whether the executive used the Chinery-Hesse report or that of Yamson to pay them, since the money paid fell short of what was contained in the former report, and was also above what was recommended by the latter.

Later, reports filtered in that ex-President Kufuor had rejected a cheque covering his ex-gratia, amounting to GH¢90,000, which was sent to him by an emissary from Parliament.

The Spokesman for the ex-President, Mr. Frank Agyekum, explained that his boss' refusal to accept the money was because the cheque had no accompanying documentation, detailing how the government arrived at the GH¢90,000 figure, and which of the reports was being used.

Though Mr. Kufuor has come under public criticism for refusing to accept the money, we at The Chronicle do not think he erred in his action to merit such condemnation.

As a former Head of State, we contend that it is an insult for the government to just submit a cheque to him, without an accompanying covering letter explaining how the money was arrived at.

If claims by some MPs that they do not know which of the reports the government used in paying their ex-gratia, is anything to go by, then Mr. Kufuor was justified in rejecting the cheque, when the paying authority failed to inform him of the basis for the money.

What prevented the government from treating the ex-President in a formal and fitting manner, instead of the pedestrian approach used to send him the cheque. During the era of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, a similar incident happened to ex-President Rawlings, when some ¢600 million, representing his ex-gratia, was dumped into his personal account without his knowledge.

We cannot imagine a situation where money is paid into a person's private account without the simple courtesy of informing him or her. Much as The Chronicle does not support the profligacy and largesse that underline the ex-gratia and retirement package prescribed for former Presidents by the Chrinery-Hesse Report, we think that the government must follow the right procedure in making the payments to those who deserve it.

Whoever sent the emissary to take the cheque to ex-President Kufuor, without any accompanying documentation, must bow his or her head in shame. This is not the way to treat our former leaders who have contributed their quota towards the development of this country.

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