The Trades Union Congress (TUC) says it cannot support the payment of salaries to the spouses of presidents and vice presidents, even if the Presidential Emoluments Committee recommended the payment of such salaries.
A statement issued by Dr Yaw Baah, Secretary-General, TUC, copied to the Ghana News Agency, said it was simply not right for anyone who had not been officially assigned duties and responsibilities in the public service to receive monthly salaries.
“We would like to advise President Akufo-Addo to use the powers accorded him by the Constitution of Ghana to stop the payment of the salaries to his wife and the wife of the Vice President immediately until they are assigned official duties and responsibilities,” it said.
It noted that the facts gathered were that the payment of allowances to spouses of presidents and vice presidents was introduced by the first Government of the Fourh Republic, under the late former President Jerry John Rawlings.
It indicated that these allowances had been handled administratively by the Office of the President.
It said the Presidential Emoluments Committee chaired by Professor Ntiamoa-Baidu recommended that, henceforth, the wives of presidents and vice presidents should be paid monthly salaries at the level paid to cabinet ministers, as part of the privileges recommended for presidents and vice presidents.
The statement recalled that the Seventh Parliament, which was dissolved on 6th January 2021, approved the recommendation by Ntiamoa-Baidu’s Committee to convert these allowances to monthly salaries.
It said salary arrears dated back to January 2017 had since been paid to the wives of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, in accordance with the Committee’s recommendation which was approved by National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Members of Parliament.
It said that the spouses of presidents and vice presidents were not specified under Article 71 of the Constitution of Ghana. “The question is: Why should they receive salaries at the level of emoluments and privileges for some officeholders specified under Article 71?”
“It is true that salaries of some presidential staffers that are not specified under Article 71 receive emoluments that are at the level of ministers or even higher,” the statement said.
“But that is backed by the Presidential Office Act, 1993 (Act 463), Legal Service Act and other acts.”
The statement said it should be noted that Article 71 officeholders and all jobholders in the public service, including presidential staffers, had been assigned official duties and responsibilities.
It said the spouses of presidents and vice presidents had not been officially assigned any such duties and responsibilities; declaring that “therefore, they are not qualified to receive salaries from the public purse”.
It said Ghanaians appreciate what the first and second ladies were doing to support women’s rights, children’s rights, and other noble initiatives towards social and economic development of their country.
“But neither the Constitution of Ghana nor the laws of the land assign them any official duties and responsibilities,” it said.
“Therefore, the TUC cannot support the payment of salaries to the spouses
of presidents and vice presidents, even if the Ntiamoa-Baidu’s Committee recommended the payment of such salaries.
“It is simply not right for anyone who has not been officially assigned duties and responsibilities to the public service to receive monthly salaries.”
It said the Committee probably sought to rationalize or regularize allowances which were being paid already, hence its recommendation to convert such allowances into salaries; stating that “but you cannot regularize or rationalize the payment of salaries which have no basis”.
The statement said the ongoing debate indicates clearly that this issue was very important to Ghanaians.
It urged the President to also ensure that all such payments made to his wife and the wife of Vice President were refunded immediately.
“When the time comes for spouses of presidents and vice presidents to be assigned official duties and responsibilities that will qualify them to receive salaries from tax payers’ money, the executive arm of government should remember to assign official duties and responsibilities to the spouses of the Speakers of Parliament (the heads of the legislative arm of government) and the spouses of Chief Justices (the head of the judiciary arm of government).
They can also perform official duties and responsibilities.” The statement said.
“We would also like to advise the President to initiate a process towards the establishment of a Committee/Commission made up of experts from various fields to advise government on
salaries for all jobholders in the entire public service to ensure fairness.”
It said the current system appears to favour politicians at the expense of other jobholders in the larger public service in terms of salaries, allowances and other job-related privileges.
It said under no circumstance should sections of the public service have unfair advantage over others in the same public service.
The statement said the wrongs that had been perpetuated over nearly past three decades at the blind side of Ghanaian taxpayers must stop now.