‘Spouses of the President and Vice President are not captured among Article 71 Office Holders’ – John Mahama

‘Spouses of the President and Vice President are not captured among Article 71 Office Holders’ – John Mahama

Former President John Dramani Mahama has waded into the debate for the payment of salaries to the spouses of Presidents and Vice Presidents of Ghana. The debate which has occupied the media landscape this week has seen many people join in the bandwagon on either side of the discussion.

As many see it as a way to drain the public coffers and thus very unnecessary especially in this times of economic hardship in the country, some others think otherwise and believe it is the right way to go. There is a third group that thinks it will allow for accountability if the payments of salaries and allowances to them are regularized as proposed by the Professor Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee, that it will reduce any chances of misappropriation of public funds for those two offices.

Mr Mahama who has seen it all in that office serving as Vice President under Professor Mills and later as President thinks, it is being passed through “a short-cut to circumvent well laid-out constitutional rules”.

He stated that “some expenses of the spouses of the President and Vice President in carrying out their expected roles are funded by the Office of the President. This includes fueling of vehicles, security, clerical staff, stationery, hosting of local and foreign guests and all such expenditures.”

Also, he noted that the aforementioned support “is separate from allowances payable to spouses of the President, Vice President, former Presidents, former Vice Presidents and former Heads of State”.

Clarifying further, Mr Mahama warned that neither the spouse of the president nor that of the Vice President is classified as an Article 71 Office Holder and must be treated with caution to avoid side-stepping the constitution as there are no grounds for the recommendations made by the committee.

“The challenge, however, is that the spouses of the President and Vice President are not captured among Article 71 Office Holders and, therefore, there is no legal or constitutional basis for it.”

He acknowledged that successive governments have provided the Office of the First Lady and Second Lady allowances as was started by the first President of the 4th Republic in the spirit of reconciliation with the past. If however government wants to regularize it, it should go through the right process and pass “enabling legislation to back these payments”.

Read Mahama’s full statement here.

By: Clifford Adumbire | myactiveonline.com

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