Former President Kufuor has at long last broken his silence on the controversial ex-gratia awards for Members of Parliament and former Presidents.
Ever since details of the ex-gratia award were made public and generated extensive debate in the country, many people including chiefs and some religious leaders called on the former President to break his silence on the vexed issue, but he never accepted the challenge.
We are, therefore, happy that he took advantage of his presence at Parliament House in Accra, yesterday, to comment on the subject. Though he was silent on the package meant for himself as former President, at least, he touched on that of the MPs, which has also generated tension among the lawmakers and the Presidency.
The Chronicle, however, disagrees with his assertion that MPs deserve the GH¢80,000 package he signed for them as their End of Service Benefit or ex-gratia, because of the tedious and important nature of their work. There is no doubt that duties performed by parliamentarians are very enormous, but that does not make them extra ordinary workers in this country.
We do not think that the teachers who taught most of these parliamentarians to get to the level they are, even receive a quarter of this ex-gratia awards that are going to be paid to the former MPs, yet their contributions to the country are also important. The same thing can be said about our health workers and other sector workers in this country. Considering the hue and cry surrounding the package, The Chronicle thinks that if the situation is not reviewed, it could spark unnecessary labour agitations in the country.
When former President Kufuor assumed office in 2001, he told Ghanaians during one of his people's assembly fora that ex President Rawlings would be re-settled with decent accommodation, but it would be for his lifetime only. What this means is that if he dies the facility would revert to the state. Despite this pronouncement, Mr. Kufuor has agreed with the Chinery Hesse recommendations that the state should provide him with two houses, which would revert to his family upon his demise.
We believe that he accepted the Chinery Hesse Report because he believes that the work of the President was a very difficult one, therefore, he and his family must be rewarded handsomely. Unfortunately, he did not think same about other workers in the country who must also be rewarded for the huge sacrifices they have made and continue to make for the country. We believe that his statement that "if you pretend to be paying the worker, he or she will also pretend to be working" fit into the argument he was using to justify the Chinery Hesse Report.
Indeed, after he and the former parliamentarians have been paid such huge sums of money as their reward for working for the country without thinking same for the ordinary worker, the latter would also pretend to be working, and in the end it is the economy that would suffer.
To us at The Chronicle, Mr. Kufuor's justification has no basis and we call on him to withdraw his statement. The country's economy as it is currently cannot support the expenditure on such huge benefits to public office holders like Mr. Kufuor and the parliamentarians.