The decision by the President and all those who work under the Executive to reduce their monthly salaries by 10 per cent, and the amount used to provide primary health care infrastructure in deprived rural areas is a noble and well thought out gesture.
It is a laudable and exemplary sacrifice that mustn’t be belittled in any way.
I do not, therefore, agree with those who have described the gesture as a mere gimmick. At the same time, I agree with those who hold the view that the action must go beyond the voluntary decision into an attempt aimed at operating a lean government.
A more effective, efficient and functional way of reducing public expenses by way of wages and salaries is to reduce the number of people who work at the presidency.
Beside the need to reduce the number of ministers of state and their deputies, we seem not to know the number of workers at the office of the presidency.
Although the law requires that the list of such staff be placed before Parliament , either because it has not been done, or the Parliamentary Press Corps have failed to locate the list and bring them into the public domain, many Ghanaians do not know the exact number of persons working under the Executive.
Indeed, it appears that all those who worked under Prof. Mills, but have not been named specifically as working in the new administration, are all at post, and receiving pay from the Consolidated Fund.
Recently, when Brigadier General Nunoo Mensah became news for asking workers who have embarked upon needless and wanton strikes in his opinion, should either stop or leave the country, a legitimate question that came up was, whether he was still the national security advisor.
Accordingly, if the Chief of Staff could make public the number of persons working at the presidency, that would be a big welcoming relief to Ghanaians.
The need to embark on extraordinary measures to deal with the exigencies of the time, and reducing cost of governance by way of fewer appointees serving under the presidency, is one potent way of achieving that objective.
The constitution is clear on the need for ministers of state advising the appointment of deputy ministers. But the manner in which deputy ministers have been appointed under the
Fourth Republic points to the fact that, in many instances, the ministers are not consulted before deputies are appointed and foisted on them.
Anytime the President decides to embark on a reshuffle, he must use the opportunity to rationalise the appointment of deputy ministers against the background that there are chief directors at each of the ministries.
The presence of more than one deputy, no matter the amalgamation of technical units into a single ministry, may be costly, but needless employment.
Returning to the issue of the reduction, or cut in the salaries of those working under the presidency, which in my opinion, should include district chief executives, there is something that bothers my mind.
The question is, can the Executive unilaterally direct reduction in the salaries of those Article 71 appointees , whose remuneration is to be approved by Parliament?
Although attempts have been made by some in government to rationalise the issue and underline the fact that it does not in any way affect the law, I am not clear whether the prior approval of Parliament was not necessary to validate the exercise.
Could any employee be affected by the directive resile?. If not, does that amount to volucompu, meaning compulsorily imposed voluntarism?
I foresee two alternatives; either that the issue receives the prior approval of Parliament, or it is described as a voluntary donation by those involved.
Whereas the presidency does not determine the levels of remuneration for those who work under the Executive, there is no law against voluntary donation.
I have taken this path because precedence although, no law could over time become law.
Therefore, if today we think that the Presidency could direct reduction in the salaries of article 71 appointees whose remuneration are lawfully determined by Parliament because the benefits inures to the state, we may be limited to restrain any future President if it is felt that the salaries of those working under the Executive are low, to unilaterally announce an increase in those salaries.
The question of due process must be followed in every step we take. Let us not forget that on January 6, 2009, Parliament purportedly approved enhanced remuneration for the Executive.
However, when Prof. Mills took office and some majority MPs who were in the minority at the time those decisions were purported to have been taken said they were unaware of the new remuneration structures, Prof. Mills abrogated it, appointed the Ishmael Yamson Committee to look into the issue, and Parliament could not act to halt Prof. Mills because there seemed not to be any record of having followed the due process.
Once bitten, twice shy. Therefore, my suggestion, infantile though some may describe it, is either that the matter remains as a reduction in the salaries, for which the issue must be brought before Parliament and ratified to have legal effect, or the decision be changed to that of voluntary donation.
The gesture is healthy and positive, and must not be allowed to be downplayed because of failure to go through the due process.
Source: Daily Graphic
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