Agyeman-Duah questions decision to pay First, Second Ladies salaries

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Professor Baffour Agyeman-Duah 

The Chief Executive Officer of the John A. Kuffuor Foundation Professor Baffour Agyeman-Duah has questioned the decision to pay salaries to First and Second ladies in Ghana.

First, he said, the process leading to the decision lacked transparency.

Secondly, he added paying salaries to the wife of the President and the Vice president is an indication that they have been formally engaged to render a service.

The former Senior Governance Adviser at the United Nations told Dzifa Bampoh on the First Take on 3FM that “ We have known, since the beginning of the Fourth Republic that all First Ladies do expend on the public expenditure. So, if we want to formalize this then we have to find the proper way because the Constitution prescribed individuals, personnel of the government, or the public service who must be salaried.  I don’t think that includes the first lady or second lady.

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“But at the same time,  I also recognize that these individuals do deserve some kind of allowances and I believe they have been paid allowances all along. What I didn’t know is that now they are going to be put on salaries and salary implies that somebody has been appointed to perform specific functions.

“As we sit here,  I do not know the terms of reference for the appointments. If indeed they have been appointed is it as first ladies or as what? So what is troubling for me  is the apparent lack of  first, transparency  in how this whole process came about  and more importantly how we are giving them salary  instead of allowances when  in fact they are not covered by the constitutional requirements of Article 71.”

Parliament has approved a recommendation by the Ntiamoah-Baidoo committee which was set up in June 2019 by President Akufo-Addo, to him and to Parliament on the salaries and allowances of First or Second Spouses.

This has incurred the wrath of some members of the Ghanaian society who believe that this has come at a time the public purse is under severe pressure.

For instance, Private legal practitioner Professor Kwaku Asare has said the five-member Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee that arrived at the decision which was approved by the House violated the 1992 Constitution,

Former President John Dramani Mahama has also said there is no legal or constitutional basis for salary payment to First and Second Ladies in Ghana.

He said the spouses of the President and Vice President are not captured among Article 71 Office Holders.

Mr Mahama who was the Presidential Candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in last year’s elections said in a statement on Friday July 9 that “The news, particularly at this time of austerity, has generated some level of outrage among the populace, and I can understand the anger of those opposing the recommendation of the Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee and its subsequent approval by parliament.

“It should be made clear, also, that the recommendation in respect of spouses in the Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee report, which covers the years January 7, 2017 to January 6, 2021, is solely in respect of the Spouses of President Akufo-Addo and Vice President Bawumia.

“The challenge, however, is that the spouses of the President and Vice President are not captured among Article 71 Office Holders and, therefore, there is no legal or constitutional basis for it,” he said.

His aide who is also a private legal practitioner, Joyce Bawa Mogtari also said the government may have to introduce another bill to parliament if the First and second ladies are to be paid salaries.

She said that payment of salaries to First and Second ladies in Ghana cannot be done under Articles 71 and 108.

“The list of Article 71 officeholders is exhaustive. If they want to pay the spouses of the President and Vice President, it is very obvious that cannot be done under Articles 71 and 108.

“They should consider a new Bill,  Spouses of President Bill maybe,” she wrote in a tweet

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