Being paid a double salary is not a crime under the Public Sector Financial Management Act, according to a former Deputy Attorney General Dr Dominic Ayine.
He said the laws recognize that people can be overpaid hence a special provision has been made under the same laws to reverse overpayment.
Speaking in an interview with Dzifa Bampoh on the First Take on 3FM Tuesday May 25, he said Police cannot arrest any employee who has been overpaid and prosecute that person unless it is established that stealing has actually taken place.
His comments come after Former Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, has alleged President Akufo-Addo stood in the way of the former Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo and stopped her from bringing criminal charges against Members of Parliament (MPs) who were alleged to have been involved in the infamous double-salary scandal.
The citizen vigilante claims the action of the president i the matter was for “political expediency”. In his latest epistle which reports to a media report that he took over the prosecution of the scandal but did nothing before resigning his post, the Mr. Amidu refuted the claims, counterclaiming it was the interference of the president that foiled prosecutions.
“The credible information I received on the case is and was that the then Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions had both perused the case docket and had come to the conclusion that charges be filed against some of the suspects for prosecution. The Attorney General was instructed not to do so by the President who unconstitutionally usurped the investigatory and prosecutorial constitutional authority of the Attorney General on grounds of political expediency of having the suspects agreeable to play ball in Parliament for the Government”, he said.
He also alleged that President Akufo-Addo used the scandal together and other criminal cases to negotiate a deal with the NDC for his ministerial appointees to be approved en mass, including those who were required to give further and better particulars before approval. This negotiation he alleged was led by an NDC former Finance Minister.
“The statement attributed to the Office of the Attorney General about recently resuming “working on establishing a prima facie case against the ex-appointees and then swing into action” cannot also be reflecting any factual truth because of negotiations led by one of the former Ministers of Finance of the NDC on behalf of this Government which resulted in the NDC party outside Parliament instructing the NDC in Parliament to approve all the Ministerial nominees of the Government including the Minister who was yet to supply further and better particulars to the appointments committee for consideration before his approval or disapproval by the Committee and by Parliament”.
He further claimed that parts of the negotiation led “to some NDC contractors being paid for the first time for work done prior to 7th January 2017 before the ministerial approvals were made as a show of good faith to the NDC…”
But Dr Dominic Ayine who is also lawmaker for Bolgatanga East told Dzifa that “This is a matter of an employer overpaying an employee. Even in the private sector it happens, where the account department miscalculate the remuneration that is due to a person. None of the persons against whom the allegation has been made actively took any step to get paid the double salary.
“Secondly, none of them was in the position to approve payment for them either by way of getting vouchers or signing off that payment be made. Ministers don’t have that power, the principal spending officers of any ministry, department and agency are the chief directors and so ministers were never involved in anyway in approving their salaries.”
He added “For instance, if the system is set up in such a way that you are told that as a parliamentarian you will be paid from parliament, then as a minister you will he paid a top up from the ministry and the person who is supposed to pay you the top up then pays something equivalent to your salary. Unless you are somebody who monitors your account on a monthly basis to see what is going on there, you will assume that that is the top up that has been paid. So people like me who came from private practice, to be honest with you, these public sectors salaries this is nothing that was going into my account.
“So for me I wasn’t even oblivious of any such payment until the matter came up.
“This is a matter that under the Public Financial Management Act and its regulations as well as the former Financial Administration Act and its regulation, there are provisions for recovery of overpayments of emoluments to public officers, it is not a crime.
“If for instance somebody who works in the environmental protection agency or someone who works in a public service commission has been overpaid the Police cannot arrest that person and begin to talk about prosecuting them for stealing. For stealing to take place you, must have dishonestly appropriated something that did not belong to you. Where is the dishonest appropriation if someone paid it to you and you, as an employee, spend the money without knowing that this is an overpayment?”