A ranking member on the finance committee in Parliament, Cassiel Ato Forson, has indicated that he is tempted to conclude Ghana is “broke”, following judges take on government’s poor handling of their allowances.
According to him, parliament has always been at the forefront of speaking up for judges who oftentimes “find it difficult to espouse” their grievances. The government, Mr Forson insisted, are well aware the important role the “judiciary in particular plays in every organization”.
Mr Forson noted that government’s default in paying judges their allowances “doesn’t really sound good”. This, he explained is because compensation of employees is made up of salaries and allowances,
“Now I’m happy that this matter has been brought up for us to discuss. And I believe that as a member of the finance committee, the finance committee will be interested in this matter going forward. This is particularly so because… if government is not paying allowances that is due the judiciary in particular, it means government is accumulating arrears. But if you are to look into government’s budget statements, it does say that they are not accumulating any arrears on the back of compensation.
“So, something is certainly missing out there. My problem is that we are where we are because of poor prioritization of government. In fact, I’m tempted to conclude that Ghana is broke to the extent that we are using approximately 70% of total revenue to service interest- to pay for both interest and what we call the amortization…”Mr Cassiel Ato Forson
Delay in payment of Judges’ allowances
Justifying his assertion, Mr Forson explained that when one adds his wages and salaries then it takes away the entire “revenue base of the country”. What this means for a country like Ghana is that, “oftentimes government is out there borrowing”.
“… and this is the same borrowing that has actually resulted in these very problems that we are in. I urge the government to ensure that things of this nature don’t happen because it demoralizes the judges and we know what it means. If you have a justice system that is poorly paid and poorly renumerated, the repercussion on the economy will certainly be bad”.Mr Cassiel Ato Forson
In a bid to find ways of tackling the problem of delayed allowances, Mr Forson suggested that it is important that government “takes this matter serious and fix it”.
Mr Forson explained that government cannot afford to let the allowances of judges delay primarily because of the superior court which is part of “Article 71 office holders”. As such, he sees no reason why their allowances should delay and that it “shouldn’t delay at all”.
“There are mechanisms in place both at the Ministry of Finance and Controller and Accountant General’s department that ensures that these allowances are paid promptly. So, I’m surprised that the government is not paying this promptly; something is certainly wrong. It may be that government is broke… that is why they’re finding it difficult to pay. Or it may be that government’s priority is wrong, they are using the money to pay for other things that they are not supposed to…”Mr Cassiel Ato Forson
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