By Maxwell Ofori .
Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has revealed that for ten years since his tenure of office as President of Ghana elapsed, he is yet to receive his ex-gratia, a largesse stated in the constitution.
According to the former President, fondly known as the Gentle Giant, the late Prof Mills’ administration failed to pay him the ex-gratia after Parliament had approved it. He cited now Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin as having confirmed the approval at a parliamentary vetting.
“…the so-called ex-gratia? I haven’t been paid ex-gratia. You’ll remember that Mrs Chinery Hesse’s report suggested ex-gratia, and, in fact, it was approved by Parliament even though it was the last days, but the administration that took over from me pretended there had not been any such approval. Later, some members of the administration, I’ll cite Mr Bagbin when he was being vetted in Parliament was put that question, and he said it was approved. If it was approved by Parliament then, automatically, there shouldn’t have been any question that I should have been paid, but, somehow, [may he rest in peace] Prof. Mills appointed Yamson Committee and later changed to Prof. Ewurama Addy Committee, so nothing was paid regularly as ex-gratia, but I don’t worry,” he told Joy.
The Spokesperson for the former President, Adu Acheampong, told The Chronicle yesterday, through a phone interview, that “he has been receiving his monthly renumerations.”
News broke in late January 2009 on the details of the retirement package by the Chinery Hesse Committee for former presidents, ministers, members and speakers of Ghana’s Fourth Parliament and other government officials.
According to reports, the Committee, commissioned by then President Kufuor, proposed that the president be awarded, among other things, six fuelled and chauffeur-driven vehicles to be replaced every four years, pension benefits, a 45-day annual holiday, offices and residences in and out of the nation’s capital, three professional and personal assistants, non-taxable ex-gratia awards, entertainment at the expense of the state, and $1 million for a foundation.
For the Legislature, the Speaker’s package included a sum of GH¢126,600 (approximately US$100,000), a saloon car, and an “all-purpose vehicle” to be maintained by the state. The Deputy Speakers’ package included $100,000 and a vehicle.
Each Member of Parliament would receive, amongst other things, sums between GH¢56,000 to GH¢90,000. In total, the package was reportedly going to cost the Ghanaian taxpayer in the region of $20 million.
However, commissioned by the late Prof Mills, the Ishmael Yamson Committee, set up to review the package already approved by Parliament, threw it in the bin.
The Yamson Committee said it was not able to recommend that President Mills accept the Chinery Hesse Committee Report for implementation, for reasons including their inability to know which report was approved by Parliament, as more than one report surfaced.
According to the Yamson Committee, there were uncertainties, ambiguities and doubts surrounding the reports, leading to lack of authenticity, adding that both the President and Parliament did not give approval, as they were mandated to do by the constitution.
On the contrary, the committee said that both the President and Parliament sought to approve the emoluments applicable to all persons listed under Article 71 of the Constitution.
Article 71 (1) and (2) of the 1992 Constitution stipulates that the determination of the salaries and allowances of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary paid from the Consolidated Fund would be decided by the President on the recommendations of a committee of not more than five persons appointed by him, and acting upon the advice of the Council of State.
Meanwhile, the same article from which such a committee derives its power was not clear on rules or guidelines governing how the committee makes its determinations, or as to what constitutes an appropriate pension.