General News of Saturday, 6 April 2013
In his condemnation of the controversial ex-gratia package, the Managing editor of the Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr has argued that it is time for government to allow the teachers to also "chop the bones". He spoke on Radio Gold's political analysis program "Alhaji and Alhaji".
His statement was in reference to a statement by President John Mahama in his State of the Nation address on 21st February 2013.
The President said “Mr. Speaker, the meat is now down to the bones, and it is time for serious rethinking about the level of wages in relation to our national competitiveness and the related productivity issues,”
It was reported earlier that MPs paid Gh¢39m ex-gratia, but no funds to pay Gh¢10m to UTAG
He said it is unjustifiable for Members of Parliament (MPs) and government to ask teachers to be reasonable about their agitations for the payment of their entitlements only for government to approve fantastic ex-gratia payments for parliamentarians.
He expressed the sentiments of teachers and said: "You people (government) chop the meat without us, and you think we will allow you to chop the bones? We will all chop the bones".
He also condemned the system where Parliament approves the salary of the President while the President approves the salary of Parliament.
He called it "scratch my back and I will scratch yours even heavier".
"Lets look at the situation if we had a system which said the teachers should approve the salaries of nurses and that nurses in turn should also approve the salaries of teachers. Can u imagine what would happen? And yet that is what we are doing. This system of scratch my back cannot be supported..."
Since 2008, there has been three different reports by three different committees tasked by Presidents to review conditions of service for Article 71 Office holders.
The Ewurama Addy Committee(EAC) was inaugurated by the late President Mills in June 8, 2010. The Ishmael Yamson Committee was also tasked by the former administration to review the Chinery-Hesse report which was presented to President John Kufuor in 2008.
The Managing editor wondered "why every President has had to appoint a new committee everytime to review emoluments after every four years even though it is not compulsory. There must be something wrong".
The iconic critic recalled that "some years ago the PNDC cancelled ex-gratia for government workers. Today some of the people who denied workers are sitting in parliament enjoying".
He also recalled a time when drivers of MPs threatened to go on strike because they were being paid below the minimum wage.
Mr. Pratt called on government to work hard to bridge the gap between the haves and have not, as the best way to ensure the equitable distribution of national resources.
"All eyes are on President Mahama", he said.