Get a new bill if you want to pay salaries to First, Second Ladies – Agyeman-Duah

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A former Senior Governance Adviser  at the United Nations Professor Baffour Agyeman-Duah has asked the government to send a new bill to parliament for it to be debated if First and Second Ladies in Ghana are to be paid salaries.

Although he is not in support of the decision to pay them salaries, he said a new law will have to back that decision if they are to be paid.

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

Speaking in an interview with Dzifa Bamph on the First Take on 3FM, Prof Agyeman-Duah 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 Chief Executive Officer of the John A. Kuffuor Foundation said that “ We have known since the beginning of the 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 Constitutions prescribed individuals, personnel of the government  of the government or the public service who  must be salaried.  I don’t think that includes the first lady  or second lady.

“But at the same time,  I also recognize that these individuals  do deserve some kind of allowance s an 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.”

He added “If in fact, if we want to place them on salaries  then the procedure  will be to have a bill, debated in parliament and the proper  constitutional measures  taken and formalized  the salaries  to be paid to them.

“But I still have a problem there.  First ladies are not elected officials of the state, they are not appointed officials  of the state , so I don’t see  under which framework we categorize them to give  them salaries. In America for instance, they do not give first ladies salaries.

“They give them allowances  for good reasons  because First ladies keep  offices, they have Chief of Staff  and staff to serve them. The same way here our first Ladies  play certain critical roles, they take on certain social  courses  and work  on them. Some provide hospitals, support for orphanages and all kinds of things.

 “So they do work and that is why I am saying they deserve some kind of  compensation.  Now, if you say salaries,  then you are putting them on the level of  cabinet ministers  then in a way you are  making them cabinet  members.”

By Laud Nartey||Ghana

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