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25.07.2005 General News

Govt to investigate delays in payment to Veterans

GNA

Amasaman (G/R), July 25, GNA - The Government has set up a Committee to examine the problems associated with delays in the payment of salary arrears to Veterans of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF). The Committee would make appropriate recommendations on the decentralisation of pension payment to remove the bottlenecks to the payment of pensions.

Dr Kwame Addo-Kufuor, Minister of Defence, announced this on Monday, when he paid a familiarization tour of the new Legion Village at Amasaman in the Ga West District. He also presented some items on behalf of President John Agyekum Kufuor to the Veterans.

They included a cow, two bags of rice and cooking oil for the 28 veterans in the Village.

Dr Addo-Kufuor said the role played by the Veterans during the two World Wars and peacekeeping operations in the West Africa Sub-Region and others parts of the world had enhanced the reputation of the Ghanaian soldier and brought honour to the country.

He said, the Government had taken cognisance of their sacrifices during their active working days, and was committed to take care of their basic needs in their old age.

The Defence Minister said the new Legion Village, was part of a package designed to acknowledge their dedicated service to the nation and to ensure that they retired to a life of dignity and reasonable comfort.

The Veterans were evacuated from the former Legion Village on the Airport Road to Amasaman last April.

Their relocation was after the lease agreement on the 4.04 hectares acquired by the Government for the Gold Coast Legion in 1950 for 50 years expired in 2002.

Attempts to have the lease renewed and extended were refused by the Lands Commission because the area had been re-zoned for commercial purposes.

However, the Ministry of Defence intervened and the lease was extended for another 50 years on condition that the land would be used for commercial development.

Dr Addo-Kufuor told the Veterans that the old Accra Legion Village valued at 2.6 million dollars had not be sold, but would be used as an equity to develop a shopping mall, and revenue to be accrued would be utilized for the welfare of retired service personnel.

He gave the assurance that the Government would continue to expand and improve on facilities at the new Village and appealed to them to take good care of the infrastructure to prolong its lifespan.

About 1.7 billon cedis have so far been spent on the Project. Work on the Amasaman Legion Village started in 1976 but stalled in 1989, the abandoned project was re-activated in July 2003. Facilities at the village include completed 30 semi-detached housing units, each containing a bedroom, a hall, kitchen, bathroom, a water closet toilet and verandas.

Other facilities were provision of potable water, electricity, sewerage facilities, a clinic and a vehicle.

The second phase of the project include the rehabilitation of 22 semi-detached housing units as well as the construction of a market, a church, a mosque and a wall to protect the village from encroachers. Major General Joseph Boateng Danquah, Chief of Defence Staff of the GAF, who addressed their concerns, reminded them that as long as they lived in the Village they were bound by military regulations. He said provision of the accommodation was the commitment of the Government and the Ghana Armed Forces to cater for them until their death but not a property to be bequeathed to their families.

The CDS said the Service regulation indicated that after the death of a soldier, whether serving or retired, the family was allowed to live in the quarters allocated to the soldier for three months, to enable them look for alternate accommodation.

He explained that it was to ensure that others in need of accommodation were catered for.

The CDS, however, promised to review the pensions to ensure they were paid regularly.

The occupants in reaction said they were not happy about the inability of their families to occupy them after their death, others also suggested a review of their pensions.

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