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General News Thu, 19 Apr 2018

Double salary: Allow MPs to refund over payments - Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

The Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has questioned why the Auditor General’s report did not capture the double payment of emoluments [salary] to some Ministers and Members of Parliament in the erstwhile Mahama administration.

To him, systems failure was the cause of the double payment since it look like the Finance Directorate at the Presidency during President Mills and President Mahama’s tenure were not talking to the Finance Directorate of Parliament.

“How come that all these years, these matters have not found expression in the Auditor General’s report, because the Auditor General should have also chanced on this. Don’t forget that we are dealing with the period from 2013 to 2016, have we gone back to 2009 to 2012, we haven’t,” he said.

Calm

Already, Parliament has called for calm and circumspection among the general public pending investigations over the alleged irregularities in the payment of emoluments to some Members of Parliament (MPs) who were also ministers in the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration.

A statement signed by the acting Director of the Public Affairs Department of Parliament, Mrs Kate Addo, said Parliament was yet to prove the offence of criminality in the said matter hence the need for calm.

The statement said Parliament would like to implore the police, MPs and the general public to remain calm and circumspect in their comments until the full facts of the matter were determined.

However, it said Parliament had pledged to cooperate fully with appropriate law enforcement agencies in investigating the matter as it sought to enhance transparency and accountability.

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Media report

Last week, it emerged that some MPs who served as ministers in the erstwhile NDC administration allegedly received double salaries [emoluments].

According to the police, the alleged action by the MPs is contrary to Section 124 (1) of the Criminal and other Offences Act 1960 (Act 29), as amended in 2012, Act 849. Section 124 relates to the offence of stealing.

Those who allegedly received the double payments are said to have received for period of two to four years.

When did it start

In 2013, 22 appointees allegedly received double salaries as against 18 in 2014.

In 2015 and 2016, 15 and 12 appointees respectively took double salaries.

From 2013 to 2016 when the NDC was in office, some of the appointees were captured in all the data collated as having received double salaries.

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The list shows that some appointees received double salaries at least once a month, while others received them monthly throughout the years.

CID Invitation

Initially, 25 NDC MPs were said to have been invited by the CID, but the Minority in Parliament held a press conference on April 10, 2018 to debunk the allegation.

Since then, some nine NDC MPs have reported to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in connection with allegation that they took double salaries.

Majority Leader’s narration

According to the Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the CID earlier contacted the Speaker of Parliament for him to waive the immunity of the MPs who were involved so that they could question them.

He said the initial reaction of Parliament was for the CID to allow space for Parliament to do some reconciliation on the matter and to enquire from the Finance Directorate of Parliament, what really happened.

He said it seemed the Finance Directorate at the presidency at the time of President Mills and President Mahama were not really talking to the Finance Directorate of Parliament and “this might have occasioned what we are witnessing.”

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Gratuity [Ex-gratia]

He said some members are also said to have received double payment for their ex-gratia

Double salary saga: Parliament's bi-partisan committee to commence work

Bi-partisan committee

According to the Majority Leader, when the matter was reported to the Speaker, Parliament decided to form a two-member committee involving Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation and MP for Tafo Pankrono and Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, MP for Ajumako Enyan Essiam to touch base with the Finance Directorate and advice to enable Parliament engage the police.

He said not too long after the committee was set up, Mr Ato Forson stepped out and organised a press conference stating what was happening was a “witch-hunt” and that nobody had done anything whereas at the same time, within the fold of the MPs, admissions had been made that it happened and that there should be an intervention on how to resolve it to save the image of Parliament.

He said the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu has since had a conversation on the matter with President Akufo-Addo on how there could be an intervention to help prevent denting the image of Parliament.

The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu is said to have suggested that because Ato Forson organised the press conference, it had dent his image and that he should be removed from the committee and be replaced with Benjamin Kpodo from Ho Central.

Reshuffled ministers

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said there were some ministers who were even shuffled out of their ministerial responsibilities but continued to receive ministers salaries.

Separate accounts

There is also information that some of them had two different accounts, one with Parliament one with the Presidency and some of them are said to have even used two different signatures, he added.

He said his position was that, if anybody has been overpaid, that person should pay back and if any sanctions should come thereafter, that would be determined maybe later.

Auditor General

Talking about systems failure, he also questioned how come that all these years these matters have not found expression in Auditor General’s report because the Auditor General should have also chanced on this.

"Don’t forget that we are dealing with the period from 2013 to 2016, have we gone back to 2009 2012, we haven’t," he said.

Source: Graphic.com.gh
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