Feature Article of Saturday, 26 May 2012
Columnist: Dekportor, Mensah
Major Ghanaian Political party representatives last Wednesday registered their displeasure at the way government appointees have resorted purchasing public properties which constitutes a serious conflict of interest on the part of public holding officers in the country.
This was contained in a statement presented during a radio political current affair discussion at TopAfric radio - a renowned radio station in Hamburg, Germany.
Panelists included Chris Mensah and Karim Abilla of the office of the NDC Germany communication, Mr. Anthony Kwabena Abrebrese Rau, an international human rights activist in Hamburg and Mr. Kobby Owusu who doubled in as NPP Germany representative whist Mr. Desmond John Beddy did the moderation. The discussion among other topics of national interest mainly centered on Mr. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, chairman of the nation’s largest opposition party (NPP) who purchased a state bungalow he had occupied as a minister during the former president Kufuor regime. The Supreme Court last Tuesday 22nd of May 2012 dismissed an action by two deputy ministers that challenged the right of the National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP)
The panelists during the discussion, though unlike partisan political forum sympathized with the poor Ghanaian tax-payers whose taxes meant for national developments were being dissipated by some greedy politicians in the name of national assignments.
The argument prolonged and detailed the concept of ex-gratia by which “The legislation provides for a generous retirement package for the outgoing head of state. The former president is entitled to receive an annual, non-taxed pension of Ghana cedis (GH¢) 55,000 (USD 40,000).
He receives a fully furnished house in Accra, and another at a location in Ghana of his choosing. These houses are to stay with the President's family, and do not revert to the state. Residential support staff are provided, as is a fully-equipped office with five staffers and secretarial support, all provided by the GoG.
“For travel, the former president is to receive six cars (3 saloon, 2 SUV's and an all-purpose vehicle) for his use, with insurance, maintenance and fuel provided by the state. He is allowed paid overseas travel for up to sixty days per year for himself, his spouse and three staff (5 star accommodation, first class travel), plus entertainment expenses (not specified) to be paid for by the State Protocol Office.
The package also includes an ex-gratia award of over GH¢ 440,000 (USD 315,000) for a single four-year term, and another GHC¢ 221,000 (USD 158,000) for the second term.
“Finally, the president is allowed a USD 1 million contribution of seed money for the creation of a presidential institute or foundation. Conover estimates the total value of the package to be worth less than USD 2 million in cash, and under USD 2 million equivalents for the properties, travel and other non-cash benefits over a decade of retirement”. The panelists stated.
The panelist therefore appraised the latest communiqué issued by the information minister on behalf of the ruling government to discontinue the sale of public properties to all political ministers and appointees. By the virtue of these sensitive directives, the property (the said bungalow) under litigation thus continues to remain the property of the state and we pray that the ex-gratia package should to be reviewed.
Here I quote “taking cognisance of the Supreme Court ruling in the matter of Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey’s immoral acquisition of a state property he occupied as a Minister of State, Cabinet, as its sitting yesterday, decided not to sell the said property,” a press statement signed by the Minister of Information, Mr. Fritz Baffour, - (Minister for information) said.
“Ghana democratic political dispensation has become business ventures whereby both skilled and unskilled citizenry invests into it purposely for ones personal enrichment. (“We no go sit down make them cheat us everyday”) No more buying of government bona fide properties by so called ministers of state and other governmental properties by state appointees” Mensah Dekportor reiterated
Report by: Mensah Dekportor (Hamburg)