When Togbe Afede XIV publicly made noise about ex-gratia payments to people like him, when such honourable appointees are already on salary, he appeared to be speaking the voice of civil society and, for that matter, ordinary citizens.
While most decent citizens felt he could have made his point more tactfully, looking at his stature, the essence of the message was not lost on Ghanaians for several reasons.
That government itself had earlier voluntarily decided to cut costs at several layers of expenditure was enough reason that some extra and conscious effort needs to be made to drastically reduce spending. Many feel the cost cutting measures should affect payment of gratuities, in particular, to a certain class of Ghanaians or appointees.
Unfortunately, when the issue of gratuities got to Parliament, where we had expected objectivity and fairness in arriving at an honest consensus, individuals and caucuses who are noted for making real noise decided to get jittery and clearly ‘selfish’.
The argument was that they had already been economically jeopardised, and there was no point being burdened with another conversation on the perks that they are constitutionally entitled to.
It was worse when the Speaker jumped to the aid of his ‘boys’ and ‘girls,’ without conceding that the real losers are the constituents they represent, and expect to return them, in 2024, to Parliament, so they can take another round of salaries and gratuities.
Interestingly, those among them who have not been forthcoming over the vexing matter of gratuities are simply and quietly dodging the issue.
Parliaments speak for citizenry
Our legislators would be the first to admit that they are in Parliament to help the Executive to perform, so that both MPs and government share the glory at the next elections.
That is why any MP nurturing the plot that crippling government would be strategic in facilitating his return to Parliament must be clowning.
So, when for instance MPs urged the Minister of Finance to go down to the people and engage them over the E-Levy tax policy, they were acting in our interest. The Minister obliged, and it worked, despite the naysayer propaganda.
Eventually, when the policy was rolled out, it was successful as our fears subsided, with the griping MoMo agents falling in step and staying still in business.
Need for review
Similarly, when civil society, with unanimous voice, cried against galamsey, and Parliament took it up, the result was positive, just as the last nation-wide tree planting exercise was embraced by all, with MPs and the former President getting involved.
It is in that light that the Daily Statesman urges Parliament to take positive interest in the issue over gratuity to appointees inherited from the first National Democratic Congress administration under Jerry John Rawlings.
Allowing that policy to persist, without tweaking it, is to imply that the Constitution inherited from the NDC era is sacrosanct, and so we should continue allowing ordinary citizens to bear the burden of having to perpetually ‘convenience’ MPs and other appointees, regardless of the crisis nations and governments go through.
In the opinion of the Daily Statesman, it is that same attitude that the Legislature must adopt in discussing issues surrounding the National Cathedral project.
It is sacred in the scheme of inclusive governance that consensus is cultivated and embraced at every step of the way as governments exercise lawful mandate for the benefit of citizenry.
Suspicion, wherever it emanates from, is inimical in helping build consensus among partners in any democratic setting. We must engage more and more.