The Dean of the University of Cape Coast Business School, Prof. John Gatsi has waded into the debate surrounding the payment of salaries for the First and Second Lady which is equivalent to a Cabinet Minister.
Speaking to Dzifa Bampoe on 3FM news on the trending issue of payment of salaries to wives of President, Vice President both present and past, said Article 71 doesn’t recognize wives of officeholders outlined to receive salaries including allowances, facilities and privileges.
Prof. Gatsi is of the view that the matter should be discussed based on grounded legal principles empathetic point of view and some historical lessons learnt. He said all these points of views should not undermine the the rule of law and proper processes adding that even if politicians meant well in taking the decision, it should be subjected to the experiences of citizens under our democracy.
According to him, citizens believe there is leadership myopia in which leaders think about their short term needs and forget that many citizens go through the same problem they desire to solve for themselves.
“The truth is if we give mass approval to improper process then we collectively empower leaders to undermine the constitution” – he said.
Prof. Gatsi told Dzifa Bampoe that payment of salaries to these spouses is a show of infidelity to the constitution and financial encumbrance on the consolidated fund.
He explained that the development amounts to illegal accommodation of “presidential wives “under Article 71. Prof. Gatsi said the implication is that these wives are invariably permitted to enjoy salaries, allowances, facilities which may have omnibus applications including vehicles, and retirement benefits. Meaning the cost to the public is much more than salaries.
Prof. Gatsi said while financial resource consideration is very important, citizens should prioritize adherence to legal principles because whether the economy is distressed or not, people must demand what is due them by law.
Prof Gatsi further explained that beneficiaries of taxpayers’ money especially Article 71 officials are supposed to operate under higher transparency, accountability and responsibility requirements of public service. Drawing salaries from the consolidated fund requires some public service to the state. He said first and second ladies’ philanthropic works should not be the grounds to put them under Article 71 beneficiaries because there are millions of Ghanaians both in public and private sectors who engage in benevolent activities to serve society.
Prof. Gatsi further added that the running of philanthropic organizations by first and second Ladies receive financial and logistical support with ease from some state institutions and the private sector when their husbands are in active public service which is normally not easy for other Ghanaians. He said if they are no more in power fundraising dwindles and with time we don’t hear of their philanthropic activities .
He added that other issues to be discussed included whether or not the wives will enjoy the tax exemption regime that the president enjoys? Will they be treated as public officers?
Prof. Gatsi suggested to government to follow the usual legal process to extend benefits under Article 71 to wives of presidents and Vice Presidents.
It is part of our value system to be empathetic towards people including former first and second ladies who maybe going through through challenges but it should be done in a manner that does not portray them as public servants.