The Truth about Kufuor's Retirement Package: Frank Agyekum, the Current Chief of Staff of the Former Ghanaian President, John Agyekum Kufuor, Reacts to the New African Story (February-Issue) on the Ex-Presidents Retirement Package

Article excerpt

The article, "No Let-up after the Elections", which appeared on page 30 of your February issue conveyed some inaccuracies that need to be corrected in order to set the records straight. I pray that in the name of fairness, you give this rejoinder prominence of place as you did the previous one.

Your reporter appears to have fallen into the same trap as those, including a few members of former President John Agyekum Kufuor's own New Patriotic Party (NPP), who have given the report a negative slant, either because they have not read its full contents or are only out to create mischief for their personal political gains.

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It is pertinent to note that the Chinery-Hesse Report which recommended the retirement package covered a lot more than just ex-gratia awards and concerned the conditions of service of more than 600 constitutional office holders. It was not fashioned for former President Kufuor but for all former presidents of Ghana, including former President Jerry John Rawlings as well as those to come in future.

Others covered in the report are all categories of officials under Article 71 (2) of the Ghana Constitution, whose emoluments and conditions of service the president is mandated by the Constitution to set up a committee to review every four years. These include those working for the Executive, Legislature, Judiciary, National Commission for Civic Education, Lands Commission, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, National Commission for Civic Education, Electoral Commission and National Media Commission, among others.

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The Chinery-Hesse Committee worked on two reports; the first completed in 2005 was on "emoluments" of all categories of personnel under Article 71 (2) of the Constitution, and its recommendations have since been implemented to all beneficiaries as listed above.

The second report on "facilities and privileges" was completed in June 2008 and the executive summary made available to the appropriate parliamentary committee. The full report was released to President Kufuor in December 2008 and has been the cause of intense, sometimes misguided public debate, because it appears that many people speaking on the issue have not gone through the whole 181-page report. Many commentators do not even seem to be aware that there is a first volume which sets out in even greater detail the justification of the recommendations made in the second volume, which clearly states that the two reports should be taken together.

It is important to note that Dr (Mrs) Chinery-Hesse was appointed to the job in 2004 just when she had retired from the International Labour Organisation of the United Nations as deputy director-general with the rank of under secretary-general. Other members were Messrs Fred Oware, financial consultant, and Alhassan Andani, managing director, Stanbic Bank. Mrs Chinery-Hesse was then not part of the Kufuor administration. It was not until May 2006, after the guiding principles in the first volume had been endorsed by the appropriate constitutional bodies, that she was made chief adviser to President Kufuor.

The work of the Committee was sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which regarded it as a governance project that could be used as a template for other African and developing countries on how to resettle their former presidents. The Committee therefore consulted widely throughout the world, and especially in West Africa and other developing countries, to enable them to gain insights of "best practices" elsewhere.

The Committee reviewed an earlier report prepared by the Greenstreet Committee which had been compiled under President Rawlings' NDC government and whose provisions were applied to President Rawlings when he was leaving office.

The Greenstreet Report recommended among other things that a retiring president should be given one house and one vehicle. …