NIA, CAGD can be sued over no Ghana Card, no salary, pension directive – Gary Nimako

Private legal practitioner, Gary Nimako Marfo has indicated that the National Identification Authority (NIA) risks facing legal action over the decision to withhold salaries of public sector workers and pensions of senior citizens who fail to obtain the Ghana Card.

This follows comments by the NIA’s Corporate Affairs Head of Department, Mr. Abdul-Ganiyu.

While responding to a question posed by host of TV3’s Key Points Dzifa Bampoh on Saturday, October 16, Mr Abdul-Ganiyu jumped to the defense of organisations withholding pensions of senior citizens in the country.

According to him, it is paramount for all persons to get their Ghana Cards since it is the mandated form of identification for all institutions.

Abdul Ganiyu indicated those without the card still have the opportunity to register and obtain one.

“That is because it is one of the mandatory uses of the Ghana Card as well. And the opportunity to register for the Ghana Card for these persons who have not registered is there. So, it’s a matter of going to register for the Ghana Card for these persons who have not yet registered is there.

“It is a matter of going to register for the Ghana Card and supplying that information for your pensions to be dealt with,” he told Dzifa Bampoh.

Reacting to his submission however, private legal practitioner Gary Nimako Marfo cautioned the National Identification Authority to be wary of their stance since it could warrant legal suits against the government.

 He indicated that although the intentions of the authority was to clean the payroll system, it must be done with extra care and balance.

“In doing so, we should be very careful of the accrue rights.

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“Somebody has worked; is entitled to his pension and you withhold pension because he doesn’t have Ghana Card? Let us try to sometimes balance the issues because these sort of things can invite legal suits against the government,” Mr Nimako Marfo explained.

Ningo Prampram Member of Parliament, Samuel Nartey George also said on the same show that CAGD could not withhold salaries of workers who do not have a Ghana Card because there is no law backing the decision.

He said “Everything is regulated by law, salaries are not regulated by LI 2111, the NIA is behaving as though LI2111 is the law that governs everything in this country, no.

“It regulates you (NIA), it doesn’t regulate registration of SIM cards. It is LI 2006 that has not been amended. Payment of salaries is regulated by Workman Compensations Act, there is the Labour Act.

“That is what governs the payment of salaries, you cannot withhold my salaries because I don’t have (Ghana Card), there is no law backing it.

“I have been a civil servant before, I worked at the Ghana Civil Service, before coming into active politics. In 2010 I went and did biometric verification, he (NIA official) works in the Public service, the Controller and Accountant General through the Ministry of Finance holds the biometric data of the 800,000 government workers, they don’t need a Ghana card to verify who they are paying.”

Labour unions rejected this move.

They said they were not consulted before the decision was taken.

The unions say even though the motive is good one, the timing is wrong since Accra and Kumasi are not the only cities that constitute Ghana.

They are therefore warning the Controller and Accountant General’s Department to halt such threats if it wants peace in this country.

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The labour unions are not pleased with the directive by the Controller and Accountant General’s Department to stop the salary payment of government workers if they do not possess a Ghana card.

The Deputy Secretary-General of Trades Union Congress (TUC), Joshua Ansah, in an interview on 3FM’s Sunrise on Thursday said “it is very unfortunate that the controller will sit and make such decision.

“The laws governing salaries must be respected and TUC says no no to it and we are calling the Controller to do the needful”, he told Sunrise Host, Alfred Ocansey on Thursday.

Mr. Ansah explained that “doing the needful means that all the stakeholders must be brought on board to decide on the issue because Accra and Kumasi is not only Ghana. We have remote areas”.

“I don’t want to believe it. They must do the needful by calling on the labour unions and talk about it because it is a good thing but wrong approach”.

The CAGD had said in a statement on Wednesday October 13 that from 1st December, 2021, all government workers without the Ghana Card will not be paid salaries.

Portions of the statement said “By this notice, all existing and prospective Government workers arc to ensure they are registered with the NIA and have obtained their Identity numbers.”

“As part of Government of Ghana’s efforts to deliver speedy, secured and verified payroll services to government employees and pensioners while reducing the risk of undeserving payments or claims, the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department (CAGD) is collaborating with the National Identification Authority (NIA) to have a harmonized database to facilitate biometric and unique identification of all workers on the government payroll,” the statement added.

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But the government has come under criticisms from some stakeholders over the decision to make the Ghana Card the sole identification document for the re-registration of the SIM cards Friday, October 1.

For instance, President of Imani Africa Mr Franklin Cudjoe, raised concerns against this decision.

Announcing this decision, Minister of Communications and Digitalisation Ursula Owusu-Ekuful said the exercise had been necessitated due to the increased use of communication services since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic and to facilitate E-education, among others.

“Only the National ID card, the Ghana card, issued to an individual shall be used for registration of SIM cards of citizens, foreign residents in Ghana and foreigners staying in Ghana for more than 90 days.”

But commenting on this in a Facebook post, Mr Cudjoe said “So, whose brilliant brainless idea is it to say that passports are not legitimate IDs for the needless SIM re-registration exercise?

“If there are fake SIM cards in the system, how is that the doing of those millions of us who registered earlier legitimately? Shouldn’t the Telcos be asked to identify and block those fake cards?

“Exactly how will the National ID card being the sole identity requirement for a RE-REGISTRATION of all SIM cards prevent the infiltration of fakes? Nor can any ID actually  do so? So, if we all yield and re-register, we will not have fake IDs, ever? And if there are fakes in the near future, we all get asked to re-register again? What is this?”

By Laud Harris Adu-Asare||Ghana