A former Member of Parliament, Lee Ocran, who is also a member of the Transitional Team, says Parliament never discussed the end-of-service benefits for ex-presidents, which is now subject of hot debates in the country.
“The issue was not even on the order paper of the day,” he said. Instead, he said the agenda for Parliament on January 6, 2009 the day on which the document was approved was a closed door meeting.
Mr. Ocran who says he is yet to see the Hansard for the day, was emphatic in saying that Parliament never discussed the emoluments for the Executive.
Mr. Ocran made these observations on the Super Morning Show of Joy FM which was monitored by ghanabusinessnews.com Tuesday January 20, 2009.
Since the package became known to Ghanaians, there have been debates for and against, including some frenzied debates raging across the country. While some see it as proper there are other Ghanaians who see it as obscene and vulgar. For those who see it as proper, they argue that a former president deserves to live in comfort after serving his people, but others who disagree, say, when Ghanaian workers ask for better salaries, they are told that government has no ability to pay, and in the same vein, the country’s economic situation should be taken into consideration in the matters of giving end-of-service benefits to ex-presidents.
Mr. Ocran insisted that Parliamentarians were invited into a closed door meeting around 2.30 pm where their own benefits were discussed, a few amendments were made and it was approved, he said nothing was mentioned about the Executive. While arguing that under the constitution, it is parliament that discusses the emoluments of the Executive, he insists that he was not aware of the meeting at which the approval was given.
“If we had discussed this, the public will know, they will hear of it,” adding, “I thought the new Parliament was going to discuss it. I was shocked when I heard it,” he said.
When the host of the show, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah told him he has a report and a cover letter from the Office of Parliament which is signed by the Clerk of Parliament which says Parliament had discussed that and passed it, he insisted that the minutes of that particular meeting should be provided for him to see.
He argued further that, no group in Parliament could have met anywhere to decide on behalf of the entire House.
Mr. Ocran said in his discussions with other Parliamentarians and former Parliamentarians Kojo Armah, Dr. Ampofo, Abu Gapele, they all were surprised about the development.
Meanwhile, Mr. P. C. Appiah Ofori, New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa has reportedly threatened to take the matter to court and Mr. Ocran has expressed his desire to join in the suit.
Mr. Appiah-Ofori said the act of approving the emoluments for ex-presidents is criminal. He asked “who is that criminal, thief who approved that?” And he appealed to President Mills to review the pension, failing which he would go to court.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi