Double Salary Scandal: Who paid the Legislators?
With wanton disdain for national interest, patriotism and national love as against personal or political party interest, the average Ghanaian politician is nothing otherwise than an inveterate leech.
Lee Kuan Yew stated in his book, “From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965-2000” that ethnic or tribal cleavage was a major setback for Nigeria’s and Ghana’s advancements after independence. Today, every conscionable Ghanaian will bear with me that the real enemy of Ghana is National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP) rivalry and blame game. Both political parties have somewhat remained obdurate to the plight of ordinary Ghanaian.
Following, Koku Anyidoho’s [NDC Deputy General Secretary] recent most inane, ludicrous and ignoble salvo and its concomitant braggadocious Presidential enragement if not ranting to the citizenry, Ghanaians are again, inundated with the issue of the double salaries of some article 71 officeholders. Every form of payment is not bereft of risk! Individuals hit by this scandal did not authorize their own payment. So, who authorized the double payment of the said salaries? Is it fair to castigate and criminalize employees who did not determine and pay their own salaries?
Although article 71 of the 1992 constitution enjoins the president to determine the salaries of the aforementioned articles office holders, the actual payment is the responsibility of the Controller and Accountant General [CAG]. Article 71 (1) and (2) of the 1992 Constitution states that the determination of the salaries and allowances of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary paid from the Consolidated Fund must be determined by the President, on the recommendations of a committee of not more than five persons appointed by him/her and acting upon the advice of the Council of State.
Is this not an ample demonstration of conflict of interest? Which serious democracy will allow the President to set up his own committee to decide his own emolument? Such systemic legal encumbrances imperil the fight against graft. It equally makes the office of special prosecutor meaningless. What is particularly lamentable is that presidency also paid emoluments! I need education on this!
Why must the ministers be paid from the presidency? The Financial Administration Act 2003 (Act 654) states the functions of the of CAG as follows: “(1) There shall be appointed in accordance with article 195 of the Constitution, a Controller and Accountant-General who is responsible to the Minister for the custody, safety and integrity of the Consolidated Fund and other public funds designated under the care of the Controller and Accountant-General.
(2) The Controller and Accountant-General is responsible for the compilation and management of the accounts prepared in relation to the Consolidated Fund and other public funds and for this purpose the Controller and Accountant-General may give general instructions to the Principal Spending Officers of departments which shall not be inconsistent with this Act or any regulations or instructions issued under this Act.
(3) The Controller and Accountant-General is the Chief Accounting Officer of the Government who has the responsibility to keep, render and publish statements of public accounts as required by this Act or any other enactment.
(4) As Chief Accounting Officer, the Controller and Accountant-General is the chief adviser to the Minister and the government on accountancy matters and is the person who approves accounting instructions of departments and promotes the development of efficient accounting systems within departments.
(5) The Controller and Accountant-General receives, disburses and provides secure custody for moneys payable into the Consolidated Fund and other funds and for this purpose shall establish such accounts with the Bank of Ghana and its agents as are considered necessary for the deposit of the moneys.
(6) A bank account shall not be opened for any department except under the authority of the Controller and Accountant-General and a bank shall not open an account for any department without the authority of the Controller and Accountant-General.
(7) Without limiting the generality of these duties, the Controller and Accountant-General shall
(a) in consultation with the Auditor-General, specify for departments, the accounting basis, policies and the classification system to be applied in public accounting and ensure that a proper system of accounting is established in each case; and
(b) ensure, in so far as is practicable, that adequate provisions exist for the safe custody of public money, securities and accountable documents”.
Needless to say, the staff of the Controller and Accountant General department are not saints. Payroll anomalies are inevitable, even so payment of double salaries raise some suspicions. Every now and then the government of Ghana conducts headcounts to ameliorate payroll anomalies and, innocent teachers at Ghana Education Service are harassed. I believe the real syndicates are in the CAG departments. Believe you me, the thoroughgoing issue of double salaries could be happening for a long time! The Special Prosecutor Mr. Martin Amidu and the majority leader and minister for parliamentary affairs, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu have confirmed receiving double salary before. Let us consolidate the payment of ministers who are also legislators in future. Those who paid the ministers are also complicit in this issue.
The argument that the current ministers have also received double rent allowance is palpably untenable. This does not make a wrong act right! We all must strengthen our power of love and patriotism for our place of abode, origin and family. Homer of classical Greek fame espoused this notion in his epic poem known as Odyssey. In the poem, we are told of the return of Odysseus to his Island of Ithaca from Troy after the Trojan War. Per the Greek tradition, this protracted War lasted for a decade. Odysseus had to grapple with another 10 years getting home because god of Sea Poseidon did not favor him. Besides, Heccuba, the Trojan woman fell for him. Odysseus got home finally and that seemed not to end his predicament. Aphrodite, god of love also threatened his life as some young men pressurized his wife Penelope to marry one of them. In the bow contest that ensued over Penelope, there was a stalemate. Odysseus and his son Telemachus overpowered and killed all the suitors. Peace was restored by goddess of wisdom and victory, Athena. What are the moral lessons from Odyssey?
The power of love for family and country energized Odysseus to return from Troy to the extent of fighting for his wife on arrival. Leaders must always raise the bar of patriotism, competence regardless of challenges befallen on them. Ghanaian politicians must be goad by the power of love for their country. Although the legislators did not pay themselves, they could have returned the salary in the same manner in which they would have reported it if they were underpaid.
I have a strong conviction that a presidential commission of inquiry into double salaries in Ghana can hardly exonerate even some of the police officers criminalizing others. A Pandora’s box of double salaries recipients would be opened. What happens to the late public office holders who received double salaries in the past? The legislators did not pay themselves. Let us deduct the money from their monthly salaries. Moving forward, we must employ competent payroll staff! God Bless Our Homeland Ghana.