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Uninformed Media Discussion Of Emoluments For Article 71 Office Holders
 
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30-Dec-2016  
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Kobby Gomez
 
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I've stumbled across a number of conversations on air and online, questioning the payment of emoluments and gratuities to state officials and appointees captured under Article 71 of the national constitution.

What comes up in these discussions is that they are being paid too much and the state may not have resources to pay them.

These assumptions are not only misinformed but also disingenuous. Because some of those advertising their disgust towards this can of worms, know better or ought to know better.

I read what is below on a platform and thought that we need to do a little more critical thinking before allowing these garbage to be heaped on us. It reads as follows:

"Mahama had the intention of scrapping the emolument for article 71 office holders years back not now, because he believed that is a huge burden on the national purse".

How can Mahama scrap emoluments for article 71 office holders? What will he replace them with? Will article 71 office holders then work for free?

Their emoluments are enshrined in the parent law of the land and cannot be scrapped based on the whims of a president, no matter how he feels about it without amending the constitutional provision.

The truth is that the President doesn't even determine his own conditions of service, those of the his ministers, chairman of council of state and members of same. Those are determined by parliament. So how can a president scrap them?

Any president with intention of varying the constitutional arrangement knows that the way to do it - it isn't to mount a podium and decry it, the same manner as suggesting that his opponent was running away from a debate, even though he were the first to shy away from same.

But as usual, some colleagues in the media have been carrying on with this without interrogating it. It makes me cringe. How difficult is it to find out from some experts before trumpeting this as the apostles' creed?

Another of the false impressions being created is that the President or by extension the outgoing NDC government doesn't have the right to increase salaries of article 71 office holders because there was a cut at a certain point in the administration to fund some projects.

That cut was for his ministerial appointees and not all covered under the provision, so how does this argument on a fractured limb stand? By what logic should such 'injured thinking' be allowed to fester on anyone's skull?

Presidents can issue fiats at any point in their administrations and reserve the right to revoke them, once the intended purpose has been achieved.

They never replace conventional practices or constitutional provisions. My hope is that the media didn't pick this jaundiced view from people who must know better but hide behind partisanship to mislead the public.

Now to my pet peeve, the media led by some misinformed practitioners continue to create an erroneous impression that Members of Parliament are the only ones who benefit from such adjustments. This false notion is peddled by folks who sound envious of MPs and create the impression that they don't deserve what they get. I beg to differ.

I have been exposed closely to the business of Ghana's parliament since 2009 and I'm not one of those who share that view. I concede that not all elected MPs can make sense of this piece, but if we intend to recruit the best brains into the legislative chamber, why do we want to pay them peanuts?

All we will get in parliament will be monkeys. Monkeys making laws for us, approving loans and interceding on your communities' behalves. We can try that.

Over the period I have worked as a journalist, many less informed practitioners have made MPs their punching bag because of their personal grudges. Like I have said since my early days in this business, this country must not stop because any two people have a beef, they must eat it by themselves, and leave the rest of us out it.

We cannot ignore all other beneficiaries in the emoluments for article 71 office holders and insist MPs alone don't deserve what they get. What about judges some of whom have been fingered for taking bribes in addition to all they get? What about Members and chairpersons of commissions all of whom feed fat on the same bottle?

What is surprising is that Chief Executives Officers of State Owned Enterprises do not suffer any such baseless attacks for the perks of their offices. District Chief Executives who fail to account to the people they purport to serve are also left off the hook but we remain fixated on MPs and their entitlements.

This ought to stop if we want top professionals to bring their expertise to parliament to help interrogate not just agreements but also conventions and other facilities that require legal backing so we can pass resilient laws in our parliament.

The irony is that many who bash them will go to them the next morning to demand one favour or another. I think that such hypocrisy must stop.

I do not think that if the lawyers in parliament were in private practice, they won't earn more than what we pay them. The professionals in parliament have helped a great deal in improving our legislative process, if we won't praise their efforts, let's not condemn them.

We risk replacing great minds with Chinese phone type brains in parliament. If that's how we want to secure our democracy, then we better bring back the military dictators.
 
 
 
Source: Kobby Gomez/ email: kobbygomez@gmail.com
 
 

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