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Opinions of Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Columnist: Asiedu, Richie Osei

Rejoinder: Council of state members must justify GHC13,000 monthly salary

By: Asiedu, Richie Osei

– CDD” AND “CDD URGES COUNCIL OF STATE TO FULFIL MANDATE”

Our attention has been drawn to CDD publication posted on myjoyonline.com with the headline “Council of State members must justify GHC13,000 monthly salary – CDD” and reproduced in the Ghanaian Times of 8th March, 2017, page 12 (2) with the caption “CDD urges Council of State to fulfil mandate”
Although an admonition to any establishment to fulfil its mandate is generally a welcome call, indicating the expectations of the one making the call, it is also worrying to adduce other comments that are considered unfortunate.

By the 1992 Constitution, the Council of State is part of Article 71 office holders whose emoluments are determined by a Presidential Committee on Emoluments with laid down processes. The outcome of the recent Committee could be obtained from the appropriate institution and it is the view that a request by the CDD and any Ghanaian for such a document would not be turned down.

It is, therefore perplexing to observe from the publication that a reputable institution such as the CDD could not better analyse such document to know the actual conditions of service of sitting Council Of State members but to follow the wagon of generalization. Adopting the posture of “accuse and get a defence” should not be encouraged as the 7th Council of State aims at ensuring wider consultation in its work which we believe has been the practice with past Councils of State.

It is on record that in the spirit of consultation with stakeholders, previous Councils have cooperated with the CDD to discuss election related issues.

On whether the said allowance or salary is deemed appropriate in the eyes of CDD and others who hold similar view, it is worth noting that Council members, for most of the previous Council’s to date have been men and women who have accomplished laurels in public and private sectors and not members seeking for survival.

To many, service to mother Ghana, and generations to come has been the motivation rather than the alleged benefits always trumpeted in the media.
Although, the public could plead ignorance of Council’s activities, the CDD, among many others could not comfortably claim same. This is because the Council, despite the Constitutional provision of holding meetings in camera has since 2002 published reports that have been widely circulated to both Government and Non-Governmental institutions including foreign embassies, educational institutions, libraries etc.

The report of the 6th Council is currently in circulation. This practice is to fill the void of understanding the work of the Council of State over the years.

On the volume of work of the Council, reference could be made to the speech delivered by H. E. Nana Addo Dankwah Akuffo Addo during the swearing in of the 7th Council, and the response from the Council. It would be recalled that H. E. the President intimated that Council might have to meet four (4) times a week to deal with the pending issues to be referred to it. In response, the Council assured H. E. and the Public of its resolve to work within the constraints and advice without reservation “to tell it as it is”. This is to show that the 7th Council does not envisage itself to be a rubber stamp as has been the opinion of many.

It is worth noting that Council, just after having been sworn into office, has held three (3) meetings within one week.

The Constitutional provision of holding at least four meetings in a year has by tradition of previous Councils become the scheduled meetings with H. E. the President which is held every quarter. This Council aims at walking the same path but also to hold emergency meetings where necessary. The Council therefore wishes to draw attention and caution that the Constitutional provision indicated above should not be misconstrued as “at most”.

Council has also preserved the approach to working through Committees which meet three (3) days in the middle of each month whilst holding Plenary meetings for two (2) to three (3) days at the end of each month. These are regardless of emergency and extraordinary meetings that may arise in the course of the year. It could be seen that the Council of State has virtually evolved into a full time body which has enabled it to gather sufficient information through engagements with Ministers, Individuals and Non-Governmental Organisations severally before offering its advice on matters of national interest.

Previous Councils have made the effort of embarking on outreach programmes which created the avenue to interact with a wide array of people and organisations at least twice yearly.
The 7th Council wishes to reiterate that it would ensure wider consultation and offer credible and timely advice to all its stakeholders to promote accountability and good governance.


SIGNED
RICHIE OSEI ASIEDU(MR) HEAD, PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Ag. SECRETARY TO THE COUNCIL OF STATE