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BY H. KWESI PREMPEH

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Prof. Henry Kwasi Prempeh | 3news

Prof. Henry Kwasi Prempeh

The mandate of an Article 71 Emoluments Committee is limited to recommending the salaries and other benefits and privileges of those office holders specified in Article 71, sections (1) and (2). That list of office holders is exhaustive. The Article 71 Emoluments Committee has no authority to recommend payment of any allowance or emolument to First or Second Spouses, as these are not Article 71 offices or office holders. And, of course, the Constitution does not require or compel a President or Vice President to have a spouse; bachelors and bachelorettes are welcome.

If Government wants to pay First and/or Second Spouses from the public fisc, it must introduce a Bill to that effect. The clear import of Articles 108 and 178 of the Constitution is that Parliament cannot, on its own accord, initiate or approve payment of any such emoluments (which would necessarily be paid from public funds) without a bill to that effect emanating from and introduced by the Government and duly passed into law.

The political class cannot use the Article 71 process to smuggle in salaries or allowances for First and Second Spouses. If that’s what they want done, they must get the Government to introduce a Bill to that effect, and thereby allow and ensure public participation in the legislative debate on this matter.

Anyway, why stop at First and Second Spouses? Why not the Third Spouse (since the Speaker gets to act as President sometimes) or the Fourth (so the Chief Justice, too, can enjoy some marital privileges on the back of taxpayers), and on and on and on. And while we are at it, shall we also subject First and Second Spouses to the asset declaration law? Indeed, when we place First and Second Spouses on the public payroll, we, essentially, convert their roles into “public offices” as that term is understood under Article 295. Is that the idea?


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