Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has explained that the payment of allowances to spouses of Presidents and Vice Presidents is not a new phenomenon.
According to him, the allowance payments were instituted under the Kufuor administration, but were only being formalised by the current government.
“President Kufuor, in his wisdom, instituted this because of the bad situations of some spouses of some former heads of states then. President Mills and Mahama even increased the rates of these benefits during their time.”
This issue is gradually dominating discussions in the country following claims that President Akufo-Addo had given approval for his wife, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, and the wife of Dr. Bawumia, Mrs. Samira Bawumia to receive the same salaries as Cabinet ministers.
Oppong Nkrumah told Daily Graphic that those claims were misleading.
“The President does not approve salaries and benefits for the Executive. Under Article 71, the First Lady and Second Lady are not office-holders, so no one can determine their benefits under that article.”
“However, a committee [on emoluments] only recommended that an arrangement for the spouses be made formal and that received approval from Parliament,” he indicated.
The Information Minister in the interview disclosed that: “The truth of the matter is that, all surviving spouses of Heads of State, current and former, have always received salaries. Lordina Mahama, Naadu Mills, Matilda Amissah-Arthur, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, Faustina Acheampong, Fulera Liman etc have all been receiving salaries since President Kufuor’s time.”
“What has happened now is that the arrangement has been made formal, but that was done legally based on the recommendation by the Emoluments Committee [in 2019],” the Information Minister clarified.
The Emolument Committee
The five-member emolument committee was set up in June 2019 by President Akufo-Addo to make recommendations to him and to Parliament on the salaries and allowances payable, and the facilities and privileges available to article 71 officeholders.
Under the chairmanship of Prof. Ntiamoa-Baidu and which also had former Majority Leader and former Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Abraham Ossei Aidooh, the Chief Executive of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, Dr Edward Kwapong, the current Director-General of the Internal Audit Agency, Dr Eric Oduro Osae, and a former Managing Director, Donewell Life Insurance Co. Ltd, Mrs Stella Segbawu, the committee had two terms of reference.
They were charged to make recommendations in respect of emoluments and other privileges for article 71 officeholders, as specified under the Constitution; and also to examine any other relevant matter which the Committee deemed appropriate to its work.
Similar committees set up in the past were at various points chaired by Prof. Miranda Greenstreet, Mrs Mary Chinery-Hesse, Mr Ishmael Yamson, Prof. Marian Ewurama Addy, and Prof. Francisca Edu-Buandoh.