Minority Caucus in Parliament has launched a fierce fight against the Director of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP), Mrs Maame Yaa Tiwaah Addo Danquah for alleging that 25 former Ministers cum Members of Parliament (MPs) took home double salaries while in Office.
At least 25 members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MPs received strange letters from the CID Boss inviting them to confer with DCOP Mrs. Addo-Danquah, and also to assist in investigations of allegations of double salaries made against them by Government.
However, at a Press Conference in Parliament on Tuesday April 10, Minority Ranking member on Finance and immediate Deputy Minister for Finance, Mr Cassel Ato Forson, said days after receipt of the fictitious allegation, 18 of them were again contacted on phone on grounds that they were mistaken.
Mr Ato Forson who is also MP for Ajumako-Eyian-Essiam Constituency in the Central Region vehemently denied that, the NDC former appointees took home concurrent salaries and hinted that the affected people in the alleged stealing allegation would have no option than to sue the CID Boss for what they term defamation of character.
He explained that “Last week, twenty-five of us received strange letters and phone calls from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service inviting us to confer with Mrs. M.Y.T. Addo-Danquah, Deputy Commissioner of Police and to assist in investigations of allegations of double salaries made against us by Government”
“However, in a bizarre twist, as we were readying to appear before the CID this week beginning from yesterday considering that we had been grouped to appear on separate days, the CID Boss called some of our colleagues to inform them that they were no longer required to appear as they had made mistakes with 18 of the 25 Minority MPs originally contacted” he stated.
Mr Forson further stated that as many as 18 of the 25 invitations have been withdrawn by the CID Boss, the woman who in 2017 got sudden headache upon visiting corruption scene at Korle-Teaching Hospital, on the basis of mistakes committed by the Government through a phone call.
The Minority Ranking on Finance, insisted that with the kind of attitude and gestures portrayed by the CID Boss has shown there was something,”we in the minority can promised the good people of Ghana will not let go unnoticed,” promising that they will sue the CID Boss to serve as a deterrent to other state institutions.
“It is sad that the hitherto respected and highly professional CID is being forced by excessive political maneuvering and underhand tactics to make that noble organization blunder and lose its credibility.”
“Following this embarrassment to Government, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, government have now resorted to the arena of propaganda,”” the Minority maintained.
The Minority said, as if the clandestine letters invitation to the former appointees was not enough, the police join the government propaganda machinery to spin doctors with lopsided media publication against the previous administration.
Mr Ato Forson added, “Our attention has been drawn to a publication in yesterday’s Daily Guide newspaper alleging that some 22 Article 71 appointees of the erstwhile Mahama administration were overpaid whilst serving as Ministers, Deputy Ministers and MPs.
According to him the said publication can only be a figment of the imagination of a Government that continues to betray the trust of the people.
“We must state for the records, that contrary to the claims by the Daily Guide, no appointee has offered to make refunds of double salaries. We challenge the Daily Guide to adduce evidence of their claims. We also find it curious that the Daily Guide was unable to produce the full list of the alleged 22 appointees.” He cried.
The former Deputy Finance Minister said as a matter of practice and convention, “Article 71 office holders including MPs, Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers are always paid on account awaiting the establishment and finalization of the work of the Presidential Emoluments Committee. This is currently what pertains even in the life of this 7th Parliament and with all current Ministers of State.”
According to him in the case of the Mahama Administration, it should be recalled that the Presidential Emoluments Committee did not complete its work until November 2016. This meant in effect that all payments made to all Article 71 office holders, including MPs, Ministers and Deputy Ministers of State were only payments made in advance of the determination of the actual salaries payable and conditions of service due these office holders.
“In consequence, upon the completion of the work of the Presidential Emoluments Committee in November 2016, the then Minister of for Finance, Hon. Seth Terkper issued a release to the Controller and Accountant General Department and to the Accounts Department of the Parliamentary Service, for the attention of the Accounts Unit).” He added
“It is important to note that the Minister for Finance instructed the Auditor-General to subject the releases to audit and reconciliation to determine the actual amounts due each individual Article 71 office holder since they had only been paid in advance. This was duly done and it emerged that Government owed the Article 71 office holders huge salary arrears,” . The Minority reiterated.
Mr Forson stressed that at the point of the audit by the Auditor-General, it was also detected that the advance paid to a handful of Article 71 office holders were more than others had received. Most of these were computational errors.
This notwithstanding, the amounts paid to this category of office holders were not in excess of their salary entitlements as determined by the Presidential Emoluments Committee. Therefore, there could not have been a situation of overpayment or double receipt of salaries by the said office holders.
“Historically, it is important to recall that this has always been the case since 1993. In 2009, when President John Evans Atta-Mills took over the reins of Government, in the process of implementing the Chinery-Hesse Presidential Emoluments Committee Report, an audit revealed that some Article 71 office holders under the Kufour Administration received more salaries in advance than other equally situated appointees. Accordingly, a similar reconciliation was performed under an audit before final payments were made to the then appointees,” he added.
Another challenge which the MP claimed caused such errors was the dual system used to pay MPs who are also Ministers, nothinh, “It was common to pay some of them from the Office of the President (as Ministers) while others were paid by the Parliamentary Service (as MP/Ministers).”
“Again, given that MP/Ministers had a more permanent tenure in Parliament, the former Ministers (in consultation with the Chief of Staff and Rt. Hon Speaker) directed that Parliament takes over the payment of ALL salaries and benefits due to these public servants,” Mr Ato Forson said.
He revealed that the salaries and emoluments of the current 7th Parliament and current Ministers have not been determined per Article 71 of the Constitution and therefore can best be described as salaries in advance.
In his view, the only way to avoid this situation is when Presidents act timeously in appointing Presidential Emolument Committees so as to avoid payments in advance and the subsequent need for auditing and reconciliation of accounts.
With that he said would avoid the ritual rush in paying Article 71 Commission adjustments close to the end of tenure of an exiting administration.
Sources:www.therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba