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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Minority Leader, four ex-ministers to refund GH¢94,080

Five ex-ministers in the Kufuor administration and the current Minority Leader in Parliament, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, have been ordered to refund a total of GH¢94,080 as overpayment made to them in their ex-gratia computation.

The directive, which follows the Auditor-General's Report on the Verification of Payments of emoluments for ex-ministers and Members of Parliament (MPs), drew an angry reaction from the Minority Leader when the Daily Graphic contacted him for a response.

He dismissed the news as "a childish prank by the NDC government to create disaffection for members of the NPP".

Those ordered to refund the money are Mr Christopher Addae, GH¢ 17,936; Mr Samuel Kweku Obodai, GH¢17,936; Mr Kyei-Bonsu GH¢20,848; Mr Ernest Debrah, GH¢19,424, and Mr Kofi Osei Ameyaw, GH¢ 17,936.

It follows a request by the Office of the President, by a letter dated March 29, 2010, requesting the Auditor-General to conduct an audit verification of Emoluments for Ex-Ministers and MPs to advise on whether there were shortfalls in payments made by the Office of the President, whether there were any overpayments by Parliament and whether there was a basis for reconciliation of the various payments.

Reacting to the Auditor-General's finding, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu expressed surprise that the affected persons had not been notified but added that it would be interesting to know the basis of the said computation, adding, "We will react appropriately when the details are made available to us."

The Auditor-General, after carrying out the requested verification, submitted that there were no shortfalls in payments made by the Office of the President but that there were some under and over-payments made by Parliament.

That was also dismissed by the Minority Leader, who insisted that each MP was paid about the same amount of gratuity and wondered how "only the five of us could have been overpaid".

"The purpose of this prank is obvious but this cannot intimidate us," he added.

It would be recalled that President John Evans Atta Mills, after the submission of the Ishmael Yamson Report on the emoluments of Article 71 office holders, requested that payments be made to a category of holders who served between January 7, 2005 and January 6, 2009.

It made the categorisation of distribution as follows - four months' consolidated salary for each completed year of service or pro rata to calculate the end-of-service benefit (ESB), installation grant of one month's consolidated salary, and resettlement grant of one month's consolidated salary for each completed year of service.

That request was conveyed to Parliament by a letter dated November 5,2009.

According to the audit report, payments were made to ministers who were not MPs, saying those were paid all their benefits by the Office of the President.

It said ministers who were MPs were paid their ex-gratia by Parliament and their installation and resettlement grants by the Office of the President, while MPs who were not ministers collected their ESB and installation and resettlement grants from Parliament.

The report said the Office of the President paid the ESB and installation and resettlement grants to the 43 ministers who were not MPs, adding that they received the full amounts as calculated by the Office of the President based on the presidential directive.

It said the monthly salaries used for the computation of the ESB of 59 ministers were less than their approved monthly consolidated salaries, thereby resulting in total under-payment of GH¢411,632 being made to 54 of the 59 ministers.

It said the names of five of the 59 ex-ministers appeared again on the list paid by Parliament, although they had had their installation and resettlement grants paid by the Office of the President, stressing that by "this repetition, the five

ex-ministers have been paid the installation and resettlement grant twice".

In respect of the installation and resettlement grant, it said after setting off the under-payments against the over-payments, GH¢648, 710 had been paid to 176 MPs who were not ministers.

"The under-payment and overpayment by Parliament were as a result of the computations not going through any audit verification before being submitted to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning for the release of funds for the payment," the report said.

Source: Daily Graphic/Ghana

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