The Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Parliament has given a strong signal to sue the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police and DialyGuide for putting in the public domain that some of its members were paid double salaries when the party was in power.
Registering its displeasure at a press conference, which was addressed by the minority spokesperson on Finance, Ato Forson, and the minority chief whip, Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka yesterday, the NDC said that the CID’s invitation to some 25 members of the minority for them to be investigated on the matter and subsequent publication of the matter by the DialyGuide is an attempt by the government to divert attention from the controversial Ghana-US military agreement and other happenings in government.
“We must state for the records, contrary to the claims byDialyGuide, no former appointee has offered to make refunds of double salaries. We challenge them to adduce evidence of their claims,” the minority members said, adding that they also find it curious that the newspaper was not able to produce full list of the alleged 22 appointees.
Interestingly, while the minority MPs were denying receiving double salaries, Central Regional Chairman of the NDC, Bernard Allotey Jacobs, indicated that some of the suspects had accepted to refund the monies using their ex-gratia.
The CID has already sent out invitation to the suspects and some of them have responded, with others scheduled to meet the investigators next week because they claim to be outside the country.
The minority members said it is absolutely false that some 25 members of the NDC MPs, who were former ministers and deputy ministers, were paid double salaries as MPs and also as ministers and that what is seen as double salaries were paid in lieu of accumulated arrears the government owes them.
They noted that under the previous Mahama administration, the Presidential Emoluments Committee did not complete its work until November, 2016 – which meant that payments to all Article 71 office holders, including Members of Parliament, ministers, deputy ministers of state, were only payments made in advance of the determination of the actual salaries payable and conditions of service due these office holders.
“It is important to note that the Minister of Finance instructed the Auditor-General to subject the releases to audit and reconciliation to determine the actual amounts due each individual Article 71 office holder since they had only been paid in advance. This was done and it emerged that the government owed the Article 71 office holders huge salary arrears,” the minority said, stressing that this had always been the case since 1993.
According to the minority, when the audit was done by the Auditor-General, it was also detected that advance paid to a handful of the Article 71 office holders were more than what others had received because of computational errors, but those payments were never in excess of their salary entitlements as determined by the committee.
“There could not have been a situation of overpayment or double receipt of salaries by the said office holders,” the NDC challenged.
It identified another challenge in paying ministers cum MPs as salaries for MPs are being paid by the Parliamentary Service while ministers also receive their salaries from the Office of the President, adding that now Parliament has been directed to pay all salaries of these public servants.
“The only way to avoid this situation recurring is when the presidents act timeously in appointing Presidential Emolument Committee so as to avoid payments in advance and the subsequent need for auditing and reconciliation of accounts which will avoid the ritual rush in paying Article 71 commission adjustments close to the end of tenure of an exiting administration.
“We, the minority NDC, stand ready to submit to the highest standard of accountability any day and we repeat for emphasis that there has been no wrongdoing on our part,” the minority members said.