The sitting First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, and Second Lady, Samira Bawumia are set to turn down the offer of payment of allowance and benefits as recommended by the presidential committee on emoluments for Article 71 officeholders (January 2017 to December 2020).
In the wake of public hue and cry over the recommendation by the Professor Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu committee, a deep throat source at the Presidency say the two leading women of the land have already indicated their resolve not to accept the offer to the Presidency.
According to the source, the First and Second Ladies are unhappy with public commentary the policy has generated seen as they have in the past four and half years been instrumental in giving support to many underprivileged people without State support.
Another source noted that though the duo recognizes that the payments are approved by Parliament for the office they occupy, they’re on their own volition declining the payments.
The Professor Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu committee report dated 18 June 2020, submitted its recommendations to President Akufo-Addo in fulfilment of the Article 71 provision of the 1992 constitution which enjoins every sitting President before the end of his four (4) year mandate, to set up a committee to make recommendations on the emoluments for Article 71 officeholders.
As part of the five (5) member committee’s report, they recommended the payment of a salary equivalent to a Cabinet Minister who is a Member of Parliament (MP) to the First Lady while her husband is in office and the Payment of a salary equivalent to 80% of salary of a Minister of State who is a Member of Parliament (MP) if the spouse served one full term as President or 100% of salary of a Minister of State who is a Member of Parliament (MP) if the spouse served two or more full terms as President.
With the Second Lady, the committee’s report, recommended the payment of a salary equivalent to a Cabinet Minister who is not a Member of Parliament (MP) to the Second Lady while her husband is in office and the Payment of a salary equivalent to 80% of salary of a Minister of State who is not a Member of Parliament (MP) if the spouse served one full term as President or 100% of salary of a Minister of State who is a Member of Parliament (MP) if the spouse served two or more full terms as Vice President.
A section of the public has expressed their displeasure with the planned payments both on traditional media and social media. Ex-President John Mahama and the Minority in Parliament have added their voices to call for the policy to be reviewed.
The latest group to add their voice to the campaign is the Trades Union Congress (TUC) which says the Presidential spouses are currently not qualified to receive salaries from the public fisc.
It, therefore, wants the President to ensure that all such payments made to his wife and the wife of the Vice President are refunded immediately.
According to the TUC, salary arrears dated back to January 2017 have since been paid to the wives of President Akuffo-Addo and Vice President Bawumia, in accordance with the Committee’s recommendation which was approved by Parliament.
The TUC contends that although the Ntiamoa-Baidu’s Committee recommended the payment of such allowances to the first and second ladies in the bid to formalize it “you cannot regularize the payment of allowances which has no legal basis”
“Ghanaians appreciate what the first and second ladies are doing to support women’s rights, child rights, and other noble initiatives towards social and economic development of our country. But neither the Constitution of Ghana nor the laws of land assign them any official duties and responsibilities.
“Therefore, the Trades Union Congress 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 in the public service to receive monthly salaries. The Committee probably sought to regularize the payment of allowances which were being paid already. But you cannot regularize the payment of allowances which has no legal basis,” the TUC said in a statement.