What Uhuru Kenyatta is taking as ex-gratia makes Ghana’s case a ‘joke’

Kenya is the best place to pursue a political ambition because an enviable ex-gratia awaits you after your tenure of office.

Uhuru Kenyatta and Akufo-Addo

End-of-service benefit for politicians and other article 71 office holders has always been a controversial topic in Ghana, with civil society groups and other well-meaning citizens calling for its abolishment.

The ex-gratia is determined by a committee set up by the President, and its report is submitted to him for adoption or rejection through a white paper.

The subject matter resurfaced a couple of months ago when Togbe Afede XIV, the Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State, and former President of the National House of Chiefs, rejected a GH¢365.392.67 gratuity paid to him by the state for serving as a Council of State member for four years, 2017 to 2020.

According to him, the payment was inappropriate for the short period that he served on the Council, for which he was already duly paid every month.

Then, later, myjoyonline.com did a calculation based on recommendations made by the Prof. Yaa Ntiamoah Baidu committee (2017-2020) and shared on social media how much some article 71 office holders were due for the period from 2017 to 2020.

According to the said calculation, President Akufo-Addo was to take a lump sum of GHC 659,392 while Vice-President Bawuia was to take GHC 549,492.

Aside from the president and the vice president, the speaker of parliament was to be paid GHC 488,456. Cabinet ministers and MPs - GHC 464,032, Cabinet minister (non-MP) - GHC 457,928 Member of Parliament - GHC 390,768, Council of State Members: GHC 366,340.

The aforementioned benefits would have been in addition to other benefits such as monthly salaries, vehicles, medical cover, fully furnished office, staff, security protection, entertainment and travel allowances, among other perks for an outgoing president and the vice president, and probably the speaker of parliament.

In the case of former President John Dramani Mahama, a report by the Daily Guide newspaper in 2018 said he was receiving a monthly salary of GHC 29,899 in addition to a lump sum that was supposed to have been paid to him by the state.

In addition to that, although there were controversies surrounding a house to be built and maintained by the state for him, he was also entitled to the following:

– state-provided staff of not more than four (4) people.

– a furnished and up-to-date office and communication equipment.

– Other staff, such as a cook, steward, gardener, and two security personnel,

– Two vehicles for security and a chauffeur. maintained and comprehensively insured by the state and changed every four years for life.

– Medical and dental services for himself and his wife.

– He would be permitted use of the “presidential jet where available and appropriate.”

– two official overseas trips annually, for him, his wife and two security personnel.

Well, the issue of ex-gratia and its attendant controversies are not peculiar to Ghana alone. Kenya is going to the polls on Tuesday, August 9, 2022, to elect a successor to the outgoing President, Uhuru Kenyatta, who served two terms from 2013 to 2022.

According to media reports, the country’s presidential retirement benefits act stipulates that Kenyatta will take home a lump sum of KSh 34.7 million (GHC2,540,259.29).

That’s not the only benefit Kenyatta is entitled to; he will also take over KSh 1,115,000 (GHC81,625.05) in monthly pension, an annual gratuity of KSh 72 million (GHC5,270,855.01), which could be increased to KSh 79.2 million (GHC5,797,940.51) in the financial year 2024.

Aside from the package, Kenya’s presidential retirement benefits act has provided for Kenyatta, the country’s National Treasury reportedly created a gratuity budget vote for retired presidents in 2021, which also provides a monthly house allowance of KSh 332,063 (GHC24,309.11), a transport allowance of KSh 216,563 (GHC15,853.78) and an entertainment allowance of KSh 216,563 (GHC15,853.78 ) for him, as well as KSh 300,000 (GHC21,981.41) to cater for his utilities.

As if all the above-stated benefits were not gargantuan enough, the eastern African country must give four cars to Kenyatta, which will be replaced every four years. He is entitled to four drivers and bodyguards, two personal secretaries, four secretaries, and four messengers with fully furnished offices, a full medical cover for him and his family, all of which are the state’s responsibility.

It appears that Kenya is giving its outgoing leaders a lot of luxuries compared to Ghana. But maybe the country is in a good financial position to sustain it. Also, the number of years their president has served might have been a factor in determining the ex-gratia.

Ghana's former President, John Kufour, introduced the ex-gratia while leaving office, a move that sparked heated controversy, with his predecessor, Jerry John Rawlings, of blessed memory, describing it as absurd and rejected it.

He had set up a Chinery-Hesse Commission which made outrageous recommendations on end-of-service benefits for him, his ministers and other article 71 office holders, which were approved by Parliament on January 6, 2009, a day before newly elected President John Atta Mills was sworn into office.

At the time, Mr. Kufour was to be given two houses – one inside Accra and the other outside, at a location of his choice.

He was also to be paid 18 months’ salary for each year that he served as ex-gratia in addition to a pension equivalent to the salary of the sitting President.

The approved ex-gratia also included six chauffer-driven cars including an all-purpose one (bulletproof or an armoured plate car) to be fueled and paid for by the state. The cars must be replaced every four years.

Kufour was also to be given a motorcade so he would not be caught up in traffic, three professional and Personal Assistants, adequate security, non-taxable ex-gratia awards, pension benefits, entertainment at the expense of the state and one million dollar seed money for the establishment of what is now known as the Kufour Foundation.

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