Who and What Should Be Determining the Ex-gratia for Our Politicians?

Thu, 13 Jan 2011 Source: Berko, George

I appreciate the fact that some agreement has been reached to pay the former State Officials their "Ex-gratia". But need we really call those benefits that, "Ex-gratia"? Why do we expect most Workers in Government employment to wait till they reach a certain age, not when their employment term ends, to start drawing their retirement benefits but the MPs and Officials at other branches of the Government, like the Presidency and, possibly, the Judiciary, the so-called Article 71 employees, are eligible to draw on their "Ex-gratia" soon after their terms are over?

If "Ex-gratia" for these Politicians are not retirement benefits, but, literally, reflects the Nation offering these benefits as a "Thank-You" gift for their work done for the Nation, then I have a huge problem with the process of legalizing it and its sheer size.

So, what are the real bases for awarding the "Ex-gratia" to these folks? Ex-gratia by legal definition is supposed to be something that is voluntarily offered without any obligatory requirement to make that offer.

It is really phony, almost fraudulent, to enshroud the payment of these "Ex-gratia" in our Constitution to give their recipients some legal right to them, while the Public is being told such payments are "voluntarily" offered by the State, ostensibly under the advisement of the Executive.

It all seems more than anything else like a hoax and a rip-off by our greedy Politicians who have never controlled their urges to take a huge bite into our Assets, without due justification for any sacrificial work done right.

Politics and serving our Nation via Elections, and even per accepting an unsolicited appointment, ought not to be regarded as some bona fide right to take these huge shares of our National cake for personal enjoyment, while the hard-toiling private contributors to the Economy and local organizers of various real voluntary tasks for our well-being remain unpaid.

What is more insidious is the fact that these Politicians take home hefty salaries and benefits while on the job, and establish exceptionally important connections all over the place to facilitate their post-service living and endeavors, for themselves and their families--an opportunity that the ordinary folks might hardly have for their entire lives.

We all know who gets the insider-notice of what Government Assets are going to be divested before the news reaches the Public. I wonder, for instance, how many of us in the general Public knew of, and were given the same opportunity the Politicians and their cronies got in the sharing of the Government Lands that recently sparked a scandalous uproar.

Folks, I am finding it increasingly difficult to dissociate myself from the notion that most of our Politicians are mainly parasitic bugs who have had the advantage of knowing more of what is going on in our World to use that knowledge to further enslave us, loot our Assets and insensitively keep craving for more, even as our basic needs are endlessly neglected. I wonder how all of you out there think about this. They have shown to be insatiably avaricious, arrogantly self-allocating and atrociously aggressive grabbers of the people's Resources.

Instead of every President appointing his or her own Committee or Commission to recommend a package of Ex-gratia to gracefully retire Officials under his term or tenure, we need to give the Electorate the mandate to discuss and contribute ideas to how much the Politicians really deserve. At least, the Ex-gratia must be decided by the same Government Agencies that decide Salaries and other emoluments for our State employees, since those Institutions do a better job of assessing how much the Nation could afford to give away within the constraints of our Budgets. These Commissions or Committees are nothing but flaky extra-judicial embroidery to legitimize the illegitimate exclusive awards to the Politicians. With that benefit established for them, any recipient Official could still go home retired in perpetual luxury, no matter how deplorable he or she might have performed in Office.

Folks, we better act now and decisively on this issue to prevent this benefit from being a permanent service entitlement to the Politicians, or we would one day wake up to realize it paved the way for some bunch of dubious Politicians to come own all our Oil reserves, while all the rest of us would be getting is some paltry Royalty. Maybe, I am stretching it a bit, here. But we need to be more assertive on this, if we care for Officials being accountable and transparent to us.

Besides, with such a lucrative "Ex-gratia" for the Politicians, we would be encouraging explosive foraging into the business of our Governance, where people would die to get into to enrich themselves rather than serve the Nation patriotically.

I do not see how any Commission, be it the Chinery-Hesse one or Ewurama Addy's, could decide with true neutrality and utmost concern for the impact of such "Ex-gratia" on the ordinary folks and the Nation. How do our Politicians justify the enormity of their suggested “Ex-gratia” in the face of the stark reality of the abject poverty among the majority of the Citizens? How do we run to the Governments of India, UK, USA and even China to seek alms to boost financing for our infrastructural efforts and shamelessly turn around to dole such exorbitant gifts on our Politicians? How do our MPs justify these benefits to themselves, while huge lack of Pharmaceutical Supplies, and Medical Equipment in our Hospitals remain, leading to numerous avoidable deaths? How do the Politicians justify their exclusive entitlement to these benefits to comfortably cater for their family, sending their children to the best Varsities outside the country, their spouses to the best Hospitals abroad for delivery of their babies, while our sisters and mothers struggle to stay alive or risk miscarriages during delivery, due to inadequate pre- and post-natal Medical Care?

I would support any system of deservingly rewarding a Politician for a good job done. And I acknowledge the fact that all Citizens reserve the right to seek the best for themselves with an honest toil. What I hate is the fraudulent means our leaders use to get us serve their personal needs to our own detriment. We seem to be stuck in the Ancient belief that our leaders, be it Chiefs or Politicians, are ordained by our Creator or God, and therefore deserve to be unconditionally excessively doled upon, else our sheer existence might be terminated by some act of God. Baloney!!! Any leader or Chief, despite the system that facilitated their selection in their respective roles, must be rewarded according as they perform their duties to the Society, Nation or Family. Any nascent privilege that anyone enjoys, even as a Parent, must be abrogated, relinquished or denied if the person fails to prove his or her eligibility to sustain it.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know of the Biblical admonishment to honor one’s Parents, yada, yada, yada…. But even if we take that Religious counsel for a moral objective in our system, I would still stand to demand qualification for continuing offering that honor. The Citizens, Constituents and members of the Society must have a definitive say in the eligibility of any Politician for the “Ex-gratia”, and any associated assessment of such eligibility must be based solely upon performance, not Tribal, Ethnic or Partisan affiliation.

We, therefore, have to set certain National standards of performance for the Politicians. Each Office must be evaluated on its peculiar benchmarks for the duties it calls for. An MP chosen by the President to serve on his or her Cabinet, for example, would have to be evaluated on his two representations. If he or she performs well as an MP but poorly as a Minister, he/she would be losing points on what level of “Ex-gratia” Ministers draw, and possibly only get what his or her MP status accords him or her. If the MP performs well as a Minister but poorly as MP for his or her Constituency, the MP benefits must be slashed considerably, or totally denied to him or her. Yes, meritocracy for our Politicians’ eligibility for the “Ex-gratia” is what I am referring to. And the final package must be determined by what our Budget could safely and wisely allow.

Well, folks, sorry, for using so many words to describe the method. But I could not just arrive at that without thinking about the cost to our suffering Citizens.

Long Live Ghana!!!

Columnist: Berko, George