The Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr. Emmanuel Akwetey, has suggested that the Office of the Civil Service must take over the process of recommending emoluments for all Article 71 officeholders.
He explained that the process of making such recommendations would be de-politicised if handled by state institutions such as the civil service instead of politically appointed persons.
“We (IDEG) think that a proper process should be set up. Not necessarily solely based on Article 71 but to institutionalise the evolution of this process which must be thought through, rational and far-sighted,” Dr Akwetey said in an interview with the Daily Graphic.
There has been widespread discourse on the payment of Article 71 office holders in the last couple of days.
The Presidential Emoluments Committee chaired by Prof. 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 payment of allowances to spouses of Presidents and Vice-Presidents was introduced by the first government of the 4th Republic, under the late former President Jerry John Rawlings.
The allowances have been handled administratively by the Office of the President.
The Seventh Parliament, which was dissolved on January 6, 2021, approved the recommendation by the Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee to convert the allowances to monthly salaries.
Salary arrears dated back to January 2017 have since been paid to the wives of President Akufo-Addo and Vice-President Bawumia, in accordance with the committee’s recommendation which has been approved by Parliament.
But Dr Akwetey said the issue should not be the subject of very public debates every four years when a government leaves office.
“It shouldn’t be something that changes every four years and we think the best way to do that is to take this process away from the hands of politicians and give it to professionals, is for the state bureaucracy to handle.
“It is not something you deal with only when the President is in office but also when they retire and it also ventures into transition where the two parties quarrel and hardly reach any consensus till we launch the new government and it ends”.
He said the process, when overseen by the head of the civil service, would be insulated from political pressures.
Dr Akwetey also disagreed with suggestions that an independent committee must be set up to handle the process, saying it would contribute further to politicisation.
“The institution to handle this should be the civil service because it is state business. This must purely be given to the civil service to handle,” he said, adding that “we should depoliticise it and make it the business of state”.
Touching on the emoluments of First Ladies and wives of Vice-Presidents, Dr. Akwetey said that insofar as there was no dispute over their status, their offices must be recognized by the state and the ethics governing their roles must be made clear.