The leaders of three political parties and a member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), have endorsed the approval of salaries for Presidential spouses.
According to them, “the spouses of the Presidents and Vice Presidents play a vital role not only in encouraging and supporting the two gentlemen of the country but also garnering the support of the local community to address social issues through their foundations.”
The parties are Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG), the All People’s Congress (APC), the People’s National Convention (PNC) and Mr Razak Kojo Opoku, a member of the NPP.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily Graphic, the founder and leader of the LPG, Mr Percival Kofi Akpaloo, explained that since the First and Second Ladies of Ghana under the Fourth Republican constitution were already receiving allowances from the state, formalising it would promote accountability and transparency.
He said unlike previously when no one knew how much was given out as allowance, Ghanaians would now know how much the state paid to presidential spouses and would be better positioned to demand accountability.
“It will give the nation an opportunity to ask them to declare their assets like all Article 71 office holders. As it is now, no one can compel them to declare their assets and the President, who is mandated by law, may decide to channel his/her assets to his wife in order to avoid declaration but now that their spouses are being paid, both will be required to declare their assets.”
For his part, Mr Ayariga said spouses of presidents had a stake in building the nation.
“They have contributed so much to the development of the nation. Most of them, one way or the other, assist the President in decision-making but it is just because we do not see what they do, we do not get to appreciate the role they play.
“Spouses play a key role in governance through the advice they offer to their partners even before it gets to Cabinet for deliberation, therefore, paying them salaries is in order. They are making some sacrifices, the trauma the President has to go through will affect the family so I do not see anything wrong when the state decides to pay them,” he stated.
The PNC in a statement signed by its General Secretary, Janet Asana Nabla, in support of the recommendation to pay salaries to Presidential spouses, stressed that the First and Second ladies were being taken care of by the state in the form of allowance provisions since the inception of the Fourth Republic thus the move to regularise the allowances now was in order.
“We rather see this to be an issue of gender parity on the part of those who are against it. It is disheartening to see some civil society organisations, NGOs, political parties and individuals kicking against the first and second ladies being on salary and citing a section of the Constitution to buttress their point when they have contributed in disregarding sections that advocate for gender equality,” the statement said.
It said opponents of the scheme should know that they were not fighting against the First and Second ladies of the land but the economic status of women in Ghana and the Affirmative Action Bill.
In a related development, a Member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Razak Kojo Opoku, while supporting the payment of salaries to the First and Second ladies, proposed that the government should present an official Bill (1st & 2nd Ladies Salaries Bill) to Parliament for deliberations, consensus building and subsequent approval.
“Through the Bill, we will be able to fine-tune the proposal and get the necessary backing from Ghanaians. We will also be able to outline in detail the job description, roles and responsibilities of First and Second Ladies under the Fourth Republican Constitution,” he said.