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General News of Friday, 15 May 2015

Source: Daily Searchlight

Tension at Army Headquarters over gratuities

Over one thousand soldiers who are set to retire from the Ghana Armed Forces are fuming with rage following revelations and suggestions that the soldiers are being stiffed out of tens of thousands of Ghana cedis each in terms of their entitlements.

The revelations have led to heightened tensions between retiring officers of the Ghana Armed Forces and senior management.

Evidence available to the Daily Searchlight reveal that in some instances, some soldiers are being stiffed out of as much as Ghc30,000.00 each. The least affected soldier has had as much as twenty thousand Ghana cedis deducted from their entitlements.

The soldiers affected number One Thousand Three Hundred and Forty.

They are in the category of over – age soldiers of the 1988 & 1989 year group, who have been placed on a compulsory retirement list effective this year.

The Ministry of Finance on the 9th October 2014 authorized the release of the sum of Ghc142,071,974.48 (One Hundred and Forty – Two Million and Seventy-One Thousand, Nine Hundred and Seventy Four Ghana Pesewas) to enable the Ministry of Defence pay gratuities due to the over aged soldiers of the Ghana Armed Forces.

Some of the beneficiaries include officers of the following ranks, MWO, SWO, WOI, WOII, S/SGT, SGT, CPK and L/CPL.

In all about 929 (Nine hundred and twenty-nine) officers are to benefit from the 1988 year group while 411 (Four Hundred and Eleven) of the 1989 year group are to be paid from the above mentioned amount.

Documentation available to the Daily Searchlight reveal that officers of the rank of senior warrant officers were to receive Ghc92,859.09, being 80% of their final gratuities. However, these soldiers were given checks for Ghc60,000.00.

Senior Staff Sergeants, who were to be paid Ghc72,007.00, were given checks for Ghc55,000.00. The incidents of such massive reductions run across board.

An emotionally charged officer who spoke to this paper said considering the worsening economic conditions, they want their concerns addressed.

When contacted via phone public relations officer of the Ghana Armed forces, Colonel Aggrey Quarshie explained that the officers have gotten the correspondence between the Finance Ministry and his outfit all wrong.

He said that the issue has even been explained to these officers by the Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah, but they seem not to be satisfied with the explanations.

He said there is a formula for calculating the payment of gratuities and this has been explained to them on countless occasions, but the officers still feel they have been shortchanged.

He described as unfortunate the document that some officers are going around town with, saying because this is what is on the paper, they are therefore entitled to the stated amount, stressing that those figures may well end up being estimates.

Colonel Aggrey Quarshie discounted those claims saying, whatever monies that are paid ends up at the Auditor General’s office for the necessary deductions to be done before the final amount is released.

He urged the officers to believe in the system because there is no way the Ghana Armed Forces, which they have served and continue to serve all these years and has been paying gratuities since the 1960s, will cheat them.