Suffering from acute pecuniary-embarrassment?

BY: Brig Gen Dan Frimpong (Rtd)
Dr Edward Kwapong — Chief Executive, Fair Wages and Salaries Commission
Dr Edward Kwapong — Chief Executive, Fair Wages and Salaries Commission

Suffering from acute pecuniary-embarrassment?

At the recent enlistment in the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), an applicant who was asked on TV why he wanted to join the Service, answered that it was because he wanted to become a billionaire.

Another applicant gave the same answer.

In a radio programme afterwards, a presenter asked how pecuniary considerations could be the motivation for joining a security service.

His use of the word ‘pecuniary’ tickled me as it brought back memories.

Pecuniary-embarrassment

Prof was a cheerful lecturer whose classes were always lively.

So, when he came to class one morning looking unhappy, it was obvious there was something amiss.

Asked what was wrong, he said with a stiff face, “I am suffering from acute pecuniary-embarrassment.”

From the look on our faces, he realised we did not understand him, as we knew no ailment/disease called “pecuniary-embarrassment.”

With a serious face, he explained that “suffering from pecuniary-embarrassment” was the “academic” way of saying, “I am broke!”

He added that, his, was acute, because he was almost penniless!

He went on to suggest we upgrade our secondary school English to university standards.

With that, led by he himself, the class broke into uproarious laughter, with us enjoying his sense-of-humour.

He then advised those who planned to teach after university, be it at the secondary or tertiary level, to remember the saying, “the teacher’s reward is in heaven,” and not here on earth.

Incidentally, “pecuniary” entered the English language in the 16th Century from the Latin word “pecunia” which means money!

As if to reinforce Prof’s point, in a recent incident, a group of beggars might have thought I was a teacher!

Beggars

Unlike Catholics who can take communion daily at Mass, Methodists and Presbyterians take communion once a month.

In my church, the Garrison Methodist-Presbyterian-Church, Burma Camp, we have Communion Service on the first Sunday of the month.

After Service on Sunday, November 7, 2021, I made a brief “technical stop” at the Air Force Officers’ Mess for “refueling” to hydrate myself, before driving home.

The traffic-light just outside the Mess showed red.

The vehicle ahead of me was a Toyota-Land-Cruiser-V8.

As soon as it stopped, all the beggars charged at it.

Disappointed with no generosity from the occupants, they moved towards my Mitsubishi pick-up, but did not stop.

Looking through my rear-view-mirror, I saw the vehicle behind me they moved to was another Land-Cruiser-V8.

Smiling, I asked myself, did these discriminating beggars-with-a-choice, ignore my pick-up, believing I could be a teacher, and, therefore, likely to be suffering from “acute pecuniary-embarrassment?”

Disparities

I know of the huge disparities in pay between people with similar qualifications in the Public Service depending on one’s placement.

It is this anomaly that the Single-Spine Salary-Structure (SSSS) tried to address.

However, for a retiree, I was shocked when on a discussion on radio/TV recently, it was stated that the highest SSNIT pension pay to an individual was over GH¢100,000 per month.

Indeed, Google states that “the highest paid pensioner receives GH¢129,979 each month.”

I had to read over a few times to convince myself the figure was for a month, and not a year!

If the amount quoted is an individual’s pension-pay for a month, how much was he earning in active service?

In any case, how many Ghanaians receive that amount per annum?

Six years after retiring, a masters’ degree-holder in the Ghana Education Service (GES) who taught for over 30 years, receives a monthly pension of GH¢1,300 cedis per month!

Isn’t it immoral that two Ghanaians contributing to national development should on retirement, receive GH¢129,000, and GH¢1,300 per month, respectively?

Bribery

Low salaries for majority of Ghanaians and the unholy disparities make workers demand bribes for services they provide.

A former President is quoted as saying, “government pretends to pay workers, and workers pretend to work!”

Is it any wonder that rampant threats of demonstrations to address low salaries appear to be the only language authorities understand?

Indeed, on November 8, 2021, the newly-elected president of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) stated that they would embark on a strike soon to back their 2020 demand for salary increase.

He bemoaned Members of Parliament (MPs) taking ex-gratia every four years, while after 20 years of service, doctors get nothing.

He added “I am not calling for equality. I am calling for equity!

Gandhi/Kennedy

Mahatma Gandhi said God created “Enough for everybody’s need, but not enough for everybody’s greed.”

For an individual to take home a SSNIT pension-pay of over GH¢129,000 per month, while a masters’ degree-holder who taught in the GES for over 30 years “suffers from acute pecuniary-embarrassment” of GH¢1,300 per month, defies logic!

President Kennedy said, “if a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich!”

Those paid to think on our behalf, think of a humane solution to this imbalance!

Leadership, lead! Fellow Ghanaians, wake up.

The writer is former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya & Council Chairman, Family Health University College, Accra. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.