At long last, former President John Agyekum Kufuor is to receive his retirement benefits, popularly referred to as ex gratia, as provided for in article 71 clauses (1) (2) and (3) of the 1992 constitution.
Information trickling in indicates that both the office of the former President and the government have almost reached a deal for the retirement benefits of the former President.
Article 71 clause (1) states that the salaries and allowances payable, and the facilities and privileges available to-
(a) the Speaker and Deputy Speakers and Members of Parliament; (b) the Chief Justice and other Justices of the Superior Court of Judicature; (c) the Auditor-General, the Chairman and Deputy Chairmen of the Electoral Commission, the Commissioner for Human Rights and Administrative Justice and His Deputies, and the District Assemblies Common Fund Administrator; (d) the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and the other members of – (i) National Council for Higher Education howsoever described; (ii) the Public Services Commission; (iii) the National Media Commission; (iv) the Lands Commission and (v) the National Commission for Civic Education; being expenditure charged on the Consolidated Fund, shall be determined by the President on the recommendations of a committee of not more than five persons appointed by the President, acting in accordance with the advice of the Council of State.
Clause (2) also states that the salaries and allowances payable, and the facilities available, to the President, Vice President, the chairman and other members of the Council of the State, Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers, being the expenditures charged on the Consolidated Fund, shall be determined by Parliament on the recommendation of the committee referred to in clause (1) of this article.
Clause (3) states that for the purposes of this article, and except as otherwise provided in this constitution, “salaries” includes allowances, facilities and privileges and retiring benefits or awards.
It was based on these provisions that the former President set up the Chinery Hesse Committee to determine the retirement package for him and other public office holders, but the final report issued by the committee became a subject of debate about its authenticity.
Whilst some members of Parliament insisted that the Chinerry Hesse report was brought to the National Assembly for ratification, others denied the claim. The claims and counter denials among members of the House compelled President Mills to suspend the Committee’s report and set up another one, this time headed by an eminent Economist, Dr. Ishmael Yamson, which has since presented its report.
Members of the Minority side in Parliament, who insisted that the Chinnery Hesse Report was dully approved, however, challenged the decision to set up the Yamson Committee, insisting that the emoluments of the retiring president cannot be varied.
The retiring package for the former President includes office and residential accommodation, vehicles, payment of his office staff and security, among others. Whilst the debate was ongoing it emerged that the Mr. Kufuor had allocated to himself an office at Ridge in Accra, a decision which was rejected by the government.
This led to a frosty relationship between the former President and the government, with the former rejecting a cheque that was sent to him by the latter, as part payment of his resettlement package. The two parties later smoked the ‘peace pipe’ and decided to sit down to discuss the retiring package, leading to the current stage reached.
Mr. Frank Agyekum, spokesman for former President Kufuor, told The Chronicle in an interview yesterday that Mr. Kufuor’s outfit and the government have so far had open and frank talks over the issue. According to him, the two parties have reached firm understanding and hoped that within the next couple of weeks, a deal would be clinched.
Mr. Kufuor is reportedly paying all his office staff from his own pocket, but if an agreement is reached, the state would take up that responsibility soon. An official government source contacted by this reporter declined to comment, saying that at the appropriate time, the government would come out on the issue.
Source Ghanaian Chronicle