By: Kennedy-Zumedor Shalom | Email: email@example.com
The Prof. Yaa Ntiamoah-Baidu-led committee is one formed by the president with the task of coming up with recommendations with respect to emoluments and privileges for article 71 office holders as specified by the constitution. The article 71 office holders are clearly defined or outlined in the constitution and the spouses of president and vice are clearly not part. The committee is hereby restricted to article 71 office holders and it is out of its mandate to propose salaries for spouses of the President. This is clearly a breach of the constitution.
Upon a close analysis of the offices stated in article 71, it is obvious every officer in there has clearly defined functions by the constitution. These functions assigned to these office holders are those that can be checked. The fact that they can be checked and held accountable forms part of the reason why they should be paid. Looking at spouses, they have no clear function under the constitution. Some people in their quest to defend the payment of salaries to the first and second ladies of the country have found ways of importing functions that are not backed by constitution to the spouses. Some say they deserve to be paid because of the philanthropic work they do. We should be cognisant of the fact that their philanthropic work is out of their own will and is not a constitutional function. A first lady or second lady might decide out of her own will not to commit to philanthropy and no one holds her accountable since it is not a mandatory or constitutional function. For those speaking of the philanthropic works, they might as well just suggest that the President’s daughters be put on salary for running an NGO to save lives. This is clearly unconstitutional and there is no reason for them to be paid.
As we speak, there are allowances made available for the presidential spouses and provision is made for this in our annual budget. If the government wants to institutionalize monthly salaries for first and second ladies, they should go through the right means. The following recommendations can be taken to rightfully institutionalize their salaries:
A. Clear functions should be allocated to the first and second ladies.
B. They should be given the required logistics to perform these functions.
C. There must be a way or channel of checking their performance of the functions assigned to them. Efficiency and accountability must be prioritized
D. Then a proposal from the executive for the institutionalization of monthly salaries and allowances for first and second ladies for their services can be sent to parliament to be soundly debated and passed into law.
Anything short of this will amount to illegality.
With the legal issues aside, we have the sentiments of the average Ghanaian to consider. What most Ghanaians are considering is the fiscal effect of these salaries. More outrageous to the Ghanaian is the fact that the payment of spouses will be backdated. That’s the last thing a Ghanaian will like to hear in our current COVID season. With prices of goods seeing an astronomical increase and shedloads of taxes being mounted on the heads of the people, the government should consider the plight of its people before taking any steps to the effect of this outrageous payment.
In a time where we need to check our spending and avoid extravagant spending, the back payment of salaries of first and second ladies is simply out of place.
In essence, all this article seeks to iterate is that this issue on the payment of salaries to first and second ladies should be analysed from two contexts: legal and fiscal. With the legal satisfied, we should then proceed to consider the fiscal aspect. What does it mean to the Ghanaian’s pocket? Do we wish to have all the comfort in the world as leaders at the expense of worsening the plight of the people whose suffering we are supposed to alleviate?