Matters arising, Article 71 and the Chinery-Hesse
E. Ablorh-Odjidja, Ghanadot
A constitutional issue was raised when a member of
Parliament (MP) for Atwima Mponua, Mr Isaac Asiamah,
described as “unconstitutional the current salaries
being paid public office holders listed under
Article 71 of the 1992 Constitution,” as reported on
December 29, 2010 by a Daily Graphic on-line
Mr Asiamah questioned the constitutional basis for
the payments since “President Mills had rejected the
recommendations made by the Chinery-Hesse
Committee,” the report said.
A new committee was sworn in by President Mills on
June 8, 2010 to determine anew salaries for Article
71 office holders, including speaker and members of
parliament. The committee has yet to complete its
It must be recalled that in October 2004, President
Kufuor in the discharge of his constitutional duties
(Article 71 of the 1992 Constitution) established
the Chinery-Hesse Committee “to review, determine
and make recommendations on the Emoluments for
Article 71 Constitutional Office Holders as
described in Article 71 of the 1992 Constitution.”
The Committee worked on two reports. One covering
emoluments of all categories of workers under
Article 71, including Members of Parliament and
former President Rawlings, was completed in 2005 and
implemented for all beneficiaries.
The second report, the executive summary, which was
completed in June 2008, was made available to the
appropriate parliamentary committee. The full report
reached the then President (Kufuor) in December
Under Article 71, a report of such recommendations
is subject to acceptance and approval by a sitting
president and Parliament. It was, before President
Kufuor left office in January 2009. As said, this
report has been rejected by his successor.
If the illegality implied by Mr. Asiamah’s statement
holds, then it does so because President Mills has
removed, and therefore annulled without a
replacement, the basis for the payments of officials
as required under Article 71 of the constitution.
What has yet to be learned is not only whether the
continuing payment of these salaries are illegal but
also whether President Mills has the constitutional
authority to render void what his predecessor
(Kufuor) has already accepted and Parliament
There may be another constitutional conundrum
requiring explanation: the separation of the
functions required by Article 71 and the apparent
conflict that President Mill’s act has raised
between the executive and the legislative branches
A constitutional lawyer consulted had this to say:
“One thing that is clear … under article 71(1) it is
the President who determines the salaries of
Parliament. Under article 71(2) it is Parliament
which determines the salaries” for the president.
The lawyer also made clear that “in both cases it is
NOT the committee which determines them.” Once the
recommendations were made, the Chinery-Hesse
committee, having completed its work, got out of the
way for the constitution to work.
The separation studiously planted in the
constitution, between the presidency and parliament
on the matter of Article 71(1) and (2), is worthy of
serious consideration. We are skating on thin ice
when one branch of government starts stomping on the
But the conflict has been raised and it requires a
resolution free of partisan concerns because the
national interest is at stake.
On record to aid reflection is our constitutional
history. The constitution has been abused in the
past by military dictators and their desires, mostly
for reasons of power lust and wealth. We must now
demand a safe and reasonable course for our
commonwealth. A fair, reasonable, rewarding
Emolument Package, not a cheapskate one, ought to
stem the destructive behaviors.
On the matter of the worthiness of the Chinery-Hesse
report, it is the constitution that required the
appointment of the five member committee, with the
rationale that the process be put beyond partisan
This committee, now defunct, consisted of some of
our most eminent citizens: Mrs. Chinery-Hesse, a
Gusi Peace Prize (Asian Nobel) laureate and renowned
international public servant, and other men and
women of high esteem and stellar reputations in
their fields, all of whom could easily have
qualified to serve any of our administrations.
Subsequently, the reputation of this committee has
been seized by the political process and their
collective integrity questioned by the raucous
reception of the report. Imagine then what will
happen to us as a nation of honorable people when
the next report of the new committee, also of
stellar men and women, falls foul of a political
The Chinery-Hesse report sought to improve the
emolument and retirement package for our public
officials on a basis that should induce fealty,
better performance of duty, acceptance and
preservation of dignity within these individuals
while in or out of office.
Among the guiding principles for the committee was
“What price are we prepared to pay for good
For the average citizen the consideration ought to
be what cost are we prepared to suffer for the lack
of the same principles in our public officials,
especially those who would refuse “to relinquish
power and to adhere to Presidential Term Limits” and
good governance: weak, corrupt, ineffectual
institutions, civil wars, coup d’états?
Others understand the problem we face, if we don’t.
A Ghana News Agency report (January 13, 2011) ,
citing a statement from Ghana’s Ministry of Finance
said; “The European Union agreed to give Ghana 26
million Euros ($34.6 million) to help finance the
West African nation’s 2012 national elections.
Should we refuse the offer because it is huge; after
all it is only one election?
A commentator who read the full Chinery-Hesse report
said: “This is a report for all time, well reasoned
and with full justification for all the
The Chinery-Hesse committee said its report
represented “a bold attempt to shift from the
current regime of Emolument Packages ….that
ultimately negatively impact on Retirement
Time will tell whether the Chinery-Hesse report
deserved the abrasive rancor it received. But more
telling will be if the new committee, set up by
President Mills, would frame any of its reasoning on
the reports’ assumptions and conclusions.
Meanwhile, the constitutional issue raised by Mr.
Asamoah, with regard to the ongoing payments of
public official salaries, deserves to be resolved.
Parliament has a historic obligation to make a stand
and to define what exactly the case is.
January 13, 2011
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