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05.07.2005 General News

Grumblings In Police Service


* Fuming personnel cite meagre salaries, non-transparent deductions & cheating in welfare loans PERSONNEL WITHIN the Ghana Police Service (GPS) are disgruntled over what they say had been non-transparent deductions of various amounts from their salaries for some time now as well as cheating in the acquisition of loans from their welfare fund.

Among the deductions that attracted the wrath of the cops are, a ten thousand-cedi per month deductions as an insurance premium deductions towards a guest house facility as well as a proposed five thousand-cedi deduction as sports and education levy, a deduction which has been scheduled to take effect from this month.

Views sampled by the paper among personnel from different units and stations in Accra, after a few personnel had made their grievances known to the paper, indicate that the personnel in the service share the unanimous view that the deductions lacked transparency, thus were totally unjustified.

The personnel said they were equally not satisfied with the way a ¢50,000 per month deduction as welfare contribution from each personnel was being administered.

Though most of the policemen who spoke to the paper conceded that it was not bad for the service to have a welfare fund in place, they pointed out that there were some forms of injustices in the granting of loans from the fund.

“We are all paying fifty thousand cedis each month. But when it comes to the granting of loans, we the junior ones, from constable to chief inspector, are restricted to take a maximum of two million cedis while the senior officers who are also contributing the same amount can take tens of millions as loans from the fund. This is injustice at the highest order,” one policeman fumed.

One other issue of great concern among the junior ranks was that, there had been very little effort on the part of the leadership of the service to have their salary and other conditions of service improved.

They contended that their salaries had continued to be abysmally low and that the current deductions were just a further step to deteriorate their financial positions.

The personnel who spoke to the paper, indicated that they were not briefed before the deductions commenced and that even after the deductions had taken effect, they were not educated on the rationale behind them, a situation they said reflected how their superiors were gagging them and unduly taking their monies away.

Most of the personnel were particularly peeved over the insurance deduction. They argued that they did not know the insurance company that was involved, what particular insurance policy was being taken for them and what benefits were at stake for them.

One member argued that some of them had taken their own policies with different companies and that their superiors should have informed them about the policy so that they would have known what to do with the policies they had already taken on their own.

“If what they are doing is life insurance, then there is a problem because some of us have already taken life insurance policies. If I have two life insurance policies with two different companies and I die, by insurance laws, my people would only benefit from only one of the policies, since the two companies, by law, would obviously not pay separately for the policies,” said a policeman.

With regard to the proposed deductions for Sports and Education, they complained that the five thousand per month per each police personnel was too much.

In an interview at his office at the headquarters of the GPS, Chief Superintendent Ampah Bennin, Director of Public Relations of the GPS, confirmed the deductions as well as the proposed sports and education levy but said signals had been sent out to inform personnel throughout the country, about the deduction.

It was however gathered that the said signals were to inform the personnel about the deductions, not to solicit their views and subsequent approval before the commencement of the deductions.

The police PR director told The Chronicle that the insurance deductions were put in place to ensure that the service would be able to honor its social responsibilities such as catering for the funeral expenses of deceased members of the services as well as relatives of personnel.

“It has always been difficult for the service to afford the funeral expenses of members and their families as is required of the service. We cannot always depend on government for all the monies needed to keep the service on its toes,” the PR boss said.

He emphasized that the insurance levy was set up to make sure that when a member or a close relative of a member passed away, the service would be able to give him or her decent burial and a funeral service.

The explanation of Mr. Bennin raised questions about the purpose and usefulness of the welfare fund which generates about ¢850 million each month.

He responded that the welfare fund was used to procure a number of items, which personnel accessed on hire purchase and that as a result of that arrangement, the welfare fund was always not readily available for immediate expenses.

On the proposed education and sports levy which would also be generating about ¢850 million a month, he said considering the relevance of sports to the service and the cost of sporting materials these days, the amount could not be said to be too much.

The police PR director further hinted that with the increase in the education levy, scholarships would be provided for needy but brilliant children of policemen and part would be used to improve facilities at existing barracks schools while new ones would be constructed to improve on education for their children.

Chief Superintendent Bennin said measures to get the salaries of personnel improved were almost concluded and what was delaying the process was the absence of a police council, which needed to assent to the proposals of the service for a possible approval by Cabinet and a subsequent implementation of the proposed new conditions of service.

He, therefore, called on personnel to exercise restraint as their conditions may soon be improved. He further gave assurance that efforts would be made to educate all personnel on the benefits of the deductions.