President John Dramani Mahama has beaten ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor in the handling of the salaries and emoluments for the executive arm of government by asking for a downward review of the sums to meet the expectations of the citizenry and civil society organizations.
Mr. Mahama, who was outraged at his new monthly salary of GHC12,000 approved for him by Parliament, over the weekend directed the Members of Parliament (MPs) to reduce the amount recommended for him by the Professor Awurama Marian Addy Committee, to reflect prevailing economic realities.
Late President John Mills set up in June 2010, the Committee, led by the science professor, Awurama Addy.
It had an ex-Deputy Finance Minister in the Kufuor regime Dr Gheysika Adombire Agambila, Dr. Anthony Yaw Baah, Mrs Mariam Barnor, Nana Kobina Nketsia as members with Andrews Kwasi Boateng as secretary, to the Committee.
The President's action is in many ways a sharp departure from ex-President Kufuor's insistence on enjoying an estimated US$3.5 million luxurious ex-gratia given him by the Mary Chinery-Hesse Presidential Committee on Executive Emoluments, set up by him and rubber-stamped by a Parliament overwhelmingly controlled by his party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Donald Teitebaum, the immediate past United States (US) Ambassador to Ghana, in a confidential document to the Washington estimated the total value of Mr. Kufuor's package to be worth not less than US$2 million in cash, and under US$2 million equivalent for the properties, travel and other non-cash benefits over a decade of retirement.
What was shocking was that even before Parliament could approve of the packages for him, he hijacked a state bungalow at Ridge-Accra, to be renovated and converted to his retirement office, with a state-of-the art furnishing imported from Italy and South Africa.
For instance, President Kufuor, who wanted an Arabian King lifestyle while in retirement, thus ensured that Mrs. Mary Chinery-Hesse, who was working directly under him at the Castle-Osu as his advisor, had in her report two fully-furnished houses;one in Accra and the other at a location of his choice, with house-helps and garden boys.
These houses are to stay with the President's family, and would not revert to the State.
Residential support staff are to be provided, as it is a fully-equipped office with five staffers and a secretarial support, all provided by the state.
He wanted a motorcade riding ahead of him anytime he travelled within the country. He also wanted US$1 million to set-up a charity foundation called the Kufuor Foundation to immortalize himself through the promotion of his works and ideals.
The legislation provides for a generous retirement package for the out-going head of state. The former president wanted an annual non taxed pension of Ghana Cedis (GHC55,000(US$40,000).
For his travel, Mr. Kufuor wanted six cars (3 saloon, 2 SUV's and an all-purpose vehicle) for his use, with insurance, maintenance and fuel provided by the state.
He was to be allowed paid overseas travels for up to sixty days per year for himself, his spouse and three staff (5 star accommodation, first class travel), plus entertainment expenses (not specified) to be paid for by the state protocol office.
The package also included an ex-gratia award of over GHC440,000 (US$315,000) for a single four-year term, and another GHC 221,000 (US$158,000) for the second term.
Finally, the former president wanted US$1 million contribution of seed money for the creation of a presidential institute or foundation.
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