Executive Director of the Centre for Democratic Development-Ghana (CDD-Ghana), Professor Kwasi Prempeh, has contended that the political class cannot, without a bill laid before Parliament, use Article 71 of the 1992 Constitution, to what he terms ‘smuggle’ in the payment of salaries, allowances, or emoluments to the spouses of the President and Vice-President. He quoted the constitution which states that “The mandate of an article 71 Emoluments Committee is limited to recommending the salaries and other benefits and privileges of those officeholders specified in Article 71, sections (1) and (2)” “is exhaustive”.
In his view “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. It came to light recently through anti-graft campaigner, Vitus Azeem, Article 71 Emoluments Committee has recommended the payment of Cabinet Minister-equivalent salaries to the spouses of President and Vice President.
According to Prof. Prempeh, the 1992 Constitution does not compel President and Vice-President to have spouses, stressing that bachelors and bachelorettes are also welcome, adding that “if the government wants to pay First and Second spouses from the public funds, it must introduce a bill to that effect. He pointed out that clear import of Articles 108 and 178 of the Constitution is Parliament cannot on its own approve payment of any such emoluments without a bill emanating from, introduced by government, and duly passed into law.