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Pensioners bare teeth as 40 colleagues die without pension

From Sebastian R. Freiku,Kumasi.

Ghanaian Chronicle, April 30, 2003

The Kumasi district branch of the Ghana Government Pensioners Association has appealed to the president to prevail upon the controller and accountant general to pay members their full pension, as directed by the Ministry of Finance.

They would also want all arrears paid them in line with the directives of the finance minister last October.

A statement issued in Kumasi and jointly signed by Messrs. S. A. Tufuor and Osei Hyiaman, chairman and secretary, respectively, of the union, also called on Parliament to consider replacing CAP 30 complementary provisions with an Act of Parliament to give legal backing to the 50% minimum point of salaries of the pensioner.

The pension benefits of retired officers of the civil service are based on Pension Ordinance CAP 30, under which the provisions were static and did not make room for review to reflect the changes in the cost of living and general review of salaries.

Realising that CAP 30 was unrealistic, the government in 1995 instituted supplementary provisions by which pension payments were based on 50% of the minimum point of the scale of the rank of an incumbent officer’s salary.

Since this provision was not backed with an Act of Parliament, officials of the Ministry of Finance only instructed the controller and accountant general in writing to effect changes in the 50% out of their whims.

For instance, when salaries were reviewed in 2000 and 2001, instead of the 50% standing provision,15% of the 31% increase (2000) and 20% out of  30% increase (2001) replaced the 50% instituted by the supplementary provisions. On October 7, last year, the minister of finance reportedly authorised the controller and accountant general to calculate and pay pensioners based on 50% of the minimum point.

The association has, therefore, noted with concern that frequent changes in government policy of CAP 30’s complementary provisions with the attendant complex and workload seem unacceptable to the controller and accountant general who has vented his uncontrolled anger on the poor pensioners by not paying them their full pension as directed.

The signatories told the Chronicle that members intend pouring out on the streets to press home their demand if the president does not intervene.

The pensioners are incensed by the fact that since October last year, 40 pensioners in the Kumasi district alone, out of the 17district branches in the Ashanti region, died while on half pay.

They complained about the fact that the pay arrears of the 40 dead pensioners cannot be claimed because of the heavy cost in procuring letters of administration to procure the arrears, which are mostly far below money spent on letters of administration.

“The unclaimed pension may either be returned to government chest or remain with the banks,” they noted.

It is against this background that the union would want the president to intervene to correct the inhuman treatment of pensioners by paying them realistic pension in full and on time.

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