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07.01.2011 Business & Finance

'Single Spine Should Cover Article 71 Office Holders'

By Caroline Boateng - Daily Graphic
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The Executive Director of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC), Mr George Smith-Graham, has suggested the expansion of the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) to cover Article 71 office holders.

That, he said, would prevent the situation where the President would have to set up a committee to review the salaries and emoluments of Article 71 office holders anytime there was a change in government.

Article 71 office holders include the President, the Vice-President, the Speaker of Parliament, the Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court.

Others are Members of Parliament, Ministers of State, political appointees and public servants with salaries charged to the Consolidated Fund but enjoying special constitutional privileges in the determination of the quantum of money they enjoy.

Article 71 (1) and (2) of the 1992 Constitution stipulates that the determination of the salaries and allowances of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary paid from the Consolidated Fund would be determined by the President, on the recommendations of a committee of not more than five persons appointed by him and acting upon the advice of the Council of State.

When it comes to determining the salaries of the President, his ministers and political appointees, as well as the members of the Council of State, the Constitution states that Parliament will determine that based on the advice of the same committee.

That constitutional provision has become a cause for public concern, as it is perceived to be giving rise to political patronage.

Article 71 of the Constitution has thus become one of the articles for review by the Constitution Review Commission (CRC).

Mr Smith-Graham expressed the view that reforming the remuneration of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary might not need a constitutional review.

He said the work of a committee of not more than five persons required to be appointed by the President to determine the salaries and allowances of Article 71 office holders could be entrusted into the hands of the FWSC without contravening the 1992 Constitution.

That was because the FWSC, by its mandate and functions, had the capacity to pool the information and data on remuneration in the determination of the allowances and salaries, he noted.

Mr Smith-Graham explained that getting the people specified in Article 71 onto the SSSS was a simple matter of expanding the salary structure, as well as categorising and standardising the allowances.

He gave some of the advantages to be gained from putting the three arms of government on a unitary salary scale as ending the public perception of the President as patronising Parliament, and vice versa, in the determination of each other’s salary and ensuring that the right relativities between the salaries of public servants and the three arms of government were established.

That, he added, would contribute to workers' sense of commitment to work, as they would be assured that they were not working in vain but that all, including the political elite, were working for the right corresponding salaries.

With the advent of the new government in 2009, the issue of the emoluments of public office holders engaged the attention of Ghanaians when the outgoing Parliament hurriedly went through proposals for large payments to itself and the outgoing President.

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