An Executive Member of the Centre for Democratic Transitions, Ghana, Professor Kwamena Ahwoi, has waded into the ongoing debate on the double salary saga praying President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to halt the current police investigations.
Prof Ahwoi in a letter to the President attributed the double salary and overpayment to Article 71 Office Holders in the former President John Mahama administration to systemic and structural flaws and should, therefore, not be criminalised.
Government is currently investigating Article 71 Office Holders who allegedly received double salaries and overpayments but Prof Ahwoi stated, “Your Excellency, these problems will recur in the future if we do not acknowledge them as systemic and structural failures and rather insist on treating them as criminal matters.”
According to Prof Ahwoi, he was part of the Professor Dora Francesca Edu-Buandoh Presidential Committee on Emoluments (PCEs) which was appointed by former President John Dramani Mahama to make recommendations for Article 71 Office Holders in the Sixth Government of the Fourth Republic which was in office between January 2013 and January 2017.
“My intention in writing this letter is to draw your attention to certain systemic and structural flaws in the method of paying some of the Article 71 Office Holders which the committee identified in the course of its work and which I believe are at the heart of the present problem regarding the alleged double payment and overpayment of salaries and other emoluments to those office holders,” he stated.
“Unfortunately, the consequences of those flaws are being treated as criminal matters and have become the subject of current police criminal investigations,” Prof Ahwoi added.
These problems, according to Prof Ahwoi, occurred in the past, even in former President John Agyekum Kufour’s administration and the late President John Evans Atta Mills was compelled to write to the then Speaker of Parliament on the issue.
Prof Ahwoi advised the government to establish a taskforce with representation from the Office of the President, Parliamentary Service, Ministry of Finance, CAGD, Audit Service and the Presidential Committee on Emoluments 2013-2017 to reconcile the accounts of the affected Article 71 Office Holders on a case by case basis.
“Article 71 Office Holders found to have been overpaid or doubly paid should be made to refund the overpayment or double payment staggered over an agreed period of time.”
Prof Ahwoi stated that the letter dated March 29, 2010 written by the then Chief of Staff addressed to the Auditor-General and copied to the Speaker of Parliament stated:
“The Auditor-General has since concluded the audit verification and issued his report, a copy of which is also attached herein, for your perusal. As you will see from the report, there were no shortfalls in respect of payments made by the Office of the President.
“Some under and overpayments were, however, discovered in the payments made by the Office of Parliament. The details are, 54 ministers who were members of Parliament were shortpaid by a total of GH¢411, 632.00″.