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|3news.com|Ghana