Ghana’s apex court – the Supreme Court – has thrown out a suit by some 40 former Members of Parliament trying to get government to pay them Ghs 233,495 each.
Retiring Supreme Court judge Justice Sule Gbadegbe, reading the Supreme Court’s decision on the matter noted the constitution did not intend to create pensions for MPs but rather gratuities which the court explained is different from the former.
The court, therefore, ruled that it was unconstitutional for the Chinery Hesse Committee set up by President Kufuor in 2008 to have sought to create a pension package for MPs.
The plaintiffs, in their statement of claim, averred that since 2011 they had been negotiating with the government, through the Ministry of Finance and the leadership of Parliament, for aspects of the Chinnery-Hesse Committee report in relation to their pensions to be paid but the negotiations, they claimed, had proved futile.
“Several attempts, demands or requests made on the government to have these pension benefits paid to the plaintiffs have proved futile,” they said.
According to the plaintiffs, based on a letter dated June 25, 2015, the A-G directed the Ministry of Finance to make payments to them but the ministry had “refused, neglected or failed to pay the said money to the plaintiffs.”
The former MPs added to that, the Finance Ministry’s refusal to pay them the monies continued to cause them distress, as most of them remained unemployed because of old age and were, therefore, unable to sustain their families.
The current PNC flag bearer David Apasera sued together with 39 other former legislators including current Senior Minister Yaw Osafo-Marfo, Chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) Freddie Blay and Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku who served as MPs under the erstwhile John Agyekum Kufuor administration sued the Attorney-General and the Ministry of Finance demanding at least Ghs 233,495 each as pension.
These Forty former Members of Parliament (MPs) are all demanding Ghs 233,495 each, which they claim had accrued to them as monthly pension pay since January 2009.
The amount being claimed by these former members of parliament is originally Ghs 13,735 per each of these former MPs per month, but claim that the interest accruing during the 85 months raises the amount to Ghs 233,495 each.
The basis of the legal action by the legislators is the Chinnery-Hesse Presidential Emoluments Committee (PEC) set up by former president Kufuor which provided that parliamentarians who were 50 years and above and exited Parliament, having served two full terms, should be paid some sums of money as pension benefits.
This issue came up again under the current President who also served as an MP during the period under contention.
The Chief of Staff, Madam Frema Osei Opare, based on a letter from the Forum for Former Members of Parliament (FFMP), led by Mr David Apesera, a former PNC MP for Bolgatanga Central in the Upper East Region requesting for the payment of the salary arrears, had asked the Auditor-General to do an audit verification on the request.
The Auditor-General, Mr Daniel Yaw Domelevo, rejected the request for an audit verification to be conducted in order for the payment of salary arrears for these over 200 former Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Fourth Parliament arguing that it is invalid to make the payment.
To Mr Domelevo, apart from the fact that the claim by the FFMP is invalid because the CHC report for 2005 to 2009 was rejected, it may also amount to an abuse of power or conflict of interest to make additional payment (20% 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.
The Auditor-General further contended that because some of the MPs on the list for salary arrears are under investigation for receiving double salaries, it will not be right to pay any further monies to them.