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David Apasera on why former MPs should be paid their salary arrears of over GH¢29.7 million

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong
David Apasera
David Apasera

The leader of the Forum for Former Members of Parliament (FFMP), Mr David Apasera has been explaining why he thinks some former Members of Parliament (MPs) should be paid their salary arrears of over GH¢29.7 million.

He said the former MPs were not manufacturing figures and that in 2005 instead of paying them Gh¢5702 as monthly salary, "we were paid Gh¢3950."

He questioned why the Auditor-General is saying they were not entitled to the arrears when it was very categorical and clear.

In a radio interview with Accra based Citi FM on Monday evening monitored by Graphic Online, Mr Apasera, who was the Peoples National Convention (PNC) MP for Bolgatanga Central and leader of the forum said their option was to resort to the appropriate quarters for redress and that they were “not bothered by the opinion of the Auditor-General. I believe that if the Auditor-General had, had time to listen to us, he would have understood our case."

The Chief of Staff, Madam Frema Osei Opare, in a letter dated April 22, 2020,  based on a request by the forum in relation to some salary arrears they say are due them in the Fourth Parliament - for 2004 and 2005 to 2009, - had asked the Auditor-General to do an audit verification on the request.

The forum sent their request to the Chief of Staff in a letter dated April 17, 2020.

However, the Auditor-General, Mr Daniel Yaw Domelevo in a response letter dated May 8, 2020, declined to carry out the audit verification and said they [former MPs] were not entitled to the said arrears and that it was an "invalid" request.

He also talked about a conflict of interest situation because he said the current president [Akufo-Addo], the Chief of Staff, Frema Opare, Members of Parliament from the Majority side who are in government are on the list and he believes, "it amounts to a conflict of interest to make an additional payment of 20 percent salary increase per annum for four years to former Members of Parliament covering a period of 10 to 14 years ago, especially when some of them are now in the Executive, i.e. the approving authority."

He used a query raised by former President J.E.A. Mills in 2009 on whether or not the President and Parliament had approved of the emoluments of Article 71 officeholders, Parliamentarians and members of the executive and the decision to appoint the Ishmael Yamson Committee in 2009 to look into it as his basis for the rejection of the request by the Chief of Staff. [See letter attached below]


But explaining in the Citi FM interview, Mr Apasera said the Auditor-General got it all wrong.

“There is no conflict of interest. The thing is not generating from the president, it is not generating from the Chief of Staff office, so where is the conflict of interest here.”

"We were not properly paid and because of that, a whole lot of people [former MPs] are not in good shape and so we can’t get our entitlements because somebody thinks that it is a conflict of interest. We did it on our own because it is legitimate," he said.

Background

Throwing light on the request, Mr Apasera explained the issue is because in 2001, the MPs were being paid on account of an estimate because the president had not set up the emoluments committee to determine what actually was to be paid the MPs.

He said they were then paid on account pending the recommendation of the emoluments committee with the hope that whatever differences were to come up, were going to be tallied and paid according to that.

“What happened was that, when we were in Parliament in 2001, we were being paid on account and finally the committee [Chinery Hesse] finished its work properly in 2009. It was in January [2009] that we approved of the committee’s report. And when we approved the committee’s report, by then, we were leaving Parliament and so the payment that was made was on account.”

“Now, Honourable P.C. [Appiah] Ofori had to take the matter up, because he fortunately came back to Parliament and he took the matter up and it was rectified and so the committee’s report was implemented from day one, 2001.”

“And because of that, President Atta Mills gave an approval for the rectification and so payments were made, arrears were paid from 2001 to 2004 MPs. So the committee’s recommendation was that, from 2001, each MP was to be paid Gh¢2300... Now, the following year, the MPs salary was supposed to be increased by 20 percent, so 2002, the MPs were to be paid Gh¢2706. In 2003 the MP was to be paid Gh¢3120. Now in 2004, the MP was supposed to be paid 20 percent increment... Unfortunately, there was a repetition of the 2003 salary for 2004, and so that came up when we decided to look through the books. We realized that the 2003 salary, which was Gh¢3312 was repeated for 2004, so it meant that, 2004 salary was not paid and so we argued for it to be rectified, and by that argument, they understood and then the Auditor-General passed that document, that we were entitled, so that money was paid and that brought the salary of 2004 to Gh¢3700 and something, I don't have the document with me here, because I'm driving,” he said in the radio interview.

Adding, he said in 2005, what was to happen was that this 2004 salary should have been increased by 20 percent as the base salary for 2005 but that wasn’t the case. 2005 the base salary was Gh¢3960, less than the 2004 salary and then that figure was what we got as a salary and every year, it will increase by 20 percent. Now when you have to rectify the 2004 salary, it was supposed to have been increased by 20 percent and that would have been the base salary for 2005.

Mr Apasera disagreed with the current Auditor-General’s position that the Chinery Hesse’s Committee report cannot be relied upon.

“What he is saying is that, we may drift into a constitutional fight.”

He said there was no basis for any sitting president to disallow the previous president’s approval of emoluments.

“It doesn’t work because the emoluments would have already been paid.”

He said it was not President Mills who was to approve the Chinery Hesse report in respect of the emoluments of the Parliamentarians, it was President Kufuor rather and that was done.

He explained that the Chinery Hesse committee report was approved by President Kufuor, “and once the president approves a presidential committee’s report it takes effect. We have documents to show that, that document was used to pay us every entitlement, except that the computation …”

On the argument by the current Auditor-General, Mr Daniel Yaw Domelevo that the Chinery Hesse report was not properly approved, Mr Apasera said,

“you see the truth about it is that, politicians certain times we are our own enemies, I can say that there is nothing neither here nor there. We have found the report, we went to court with the report, we got letters from the then Chief of Staff, Kwadwo Mpiani, writing to the Speaker of Parliament saying that the President has approved the report and we sat in Parliament and approved the report in the committee of the whole, there is nothing like that committee report was never approved.”

"What happened with Ishmael Yamson’s committee was that, that committee itself was not even able to come up with anything tangible for us. It is a contradictory report … which was not right, so that cannot be relied on."

The list of former MPs demanding the arrears

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