The Vice-Chairman of Parliament’s Finance Committee, Patrick Yaw Boamah, has defended the decision of the Seventh Parliament to approve an increment in allowances for the spouses of the President and the Vice-President.
According to him, the First Lady and Second Lady make significant contributions to national development and must be compensated.
"They all contribute their quota to the development of this country," Mr Boamah said in an interview with Joy FM.
The Okaikwei Central legislator added:"Can you imagine having a wife (as President) not supporting you to help achieve a certain aspect of the nation's or your ambition based in the health sector and education sector. So, sometimes we always look at the monetary aspect not looking at the contributions that they bring to the table.
"Mrs Akufo-Addo is doing a lot at Korle Bu and everybody is happy about it, Mrs Bawumia is also doing something very good around the country. Mr Kufuor did the Mother and Child Foundation. Sometimes, through the various NGOs are able to channel some supplies through their organization and it comes to Ghanaians. You never know, which member of your family has benefited from some of their initiatives".
He said First Ladys are appreciated the world over and have forums and sessions at ECOWAS, African Union and the UN where they make contributions to the development of their respective countries and the world at large.
He also suggested that the amounts that will be paid to spouses of the President and Vice President are not excessive when compared to the value they bring in return to the country.
However, the Executive Director of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Professor Henry Kwesi Prempeh, has expressed concerns over Parliament’s approval of the allowances.
In a Facebook post, Prof Prempeh said "If Government wants to pay First and/or Second Spouses from the public fisc, it must introduce a Bill to that effect" and not rely on the recommendations of the Article 71 Emoluments Committee.
"The clear import of Articles 108 and 178 of the Constitution is that Parliament cannot, on its own accord, initiate or approve payment of any such emoluments (which would necessarily be paid from public funds) without a bill to that effect emanating from and introduced by the Government and duly passed into law," he posted.
"The political class cannot use the Article 71 process to smuggle in salaries or allowances for First and Second Spouses. If that's what they want done, they must get the Government to boldly introduce a Bill to that effect, making a case for such emoluments, and thereby allow and ensure public participation in the legislative debate on this matter. This is not something that can be done on the blind side of voters and taxpayers.
"Anyway, why stop at First and Second Spouses? Why not the Third Spouse (since the Speaker gets to act as President sometimes) or the Fourth (so the Chief Justice, too, can enjoy some marital privileges on the back of taxpayers), and on and on and on. And while we are at it, shall we also subject First and Second Spouses to the asset declaration laws, in their own capacities? What about the sweet "end-of-service" benefits? Indeed, when we place First and Second Spouses on the public payroll, we, essentially, convert their voluntary roles into "public offices" as that term is understood under Article 295. Is that the idea? Do they then become subject to all the laws applicable to public offices and officers?".