Some ex-government officials who have been loud in public with accusations of political witch hunting over the recent double salary allegations have privately admitted to receiving double salaries.
That is the claim by the Majority Leader Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu.
In a bare-it-all interview with Joy News’ Evans Mensah, Tuesday, the Majority Leader, said some of the ex-government officials admitted to taking double salaries except that it was inadvertent.
“Former MP-Ministers and Deputy Ministers [concede] that these things happened; that they were inadvertent; explanations were given and we were trying to resolve it. So if these things are going on and somebody steps out from the room to say this is witch hunting, nothing happened and so on then one begins to question where are we?”
At least nine former ex-government officials are under investigations for collecting double salaries as MPs and Ministers while serving under the government of ex-president John Mahama.
The law requires that a person who serves as a minister or deputy and at the same time is a Member of Parliament must choose which of the emoluments to take either that of a minister or an MP.
The emoluments for a minister are slightly higher than that of the MP. However the CID in its letter given to nine former government officials accused them of taking salaries as MPs and as Ministers, a conduct which is tantamount to stealing.
The CID asked the suspects to assist with investigations.
Shortly after the letters were sent out, the Minority organized a press conference accusing the government of deliberate witch-hunting.
Minority spokesperson on Finance Cassiel Ato Forson alleged the government wanted to divert attention from the real issues and was using the double salary allegations to silence its opponents.
The suspects including former Lands Minister Inusah Fuseini, Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu, Second Deputy Minister and NDC presidential hopeful, Alban Bagbin denied any wrongdoing.
Both Iddrisu and Fuseini have said there were issues with overpayment because as ministers of state at the time they did not know what amount they were to receive until the presidential emoluments committee set up by ex-president John Mahama determined that amount in December of 2016.
They vehemently denied allegations of receiving double salaries but admitted there may be cases of overpayment which has to be reconciled and monies refunded in the likely event some former appointees may have been overpaid.
They however protested the use of the police CID and the criminal investigation procedures that have been activated by the government.
Even though Majority Leader said there may be genuine cases that some former appointees inadvertently benefitted from double salaries he was quick to add some of them may be deliberate.
According to him, the CID is investigating cases in which the former appointees submitted double accounts to the Parliamentary Service as well as the Accountant General to be paid as MPs and Ministers.
While conceding that the Finance departments at Parliament and the Accountant General did not communicate, he said it would difficult to accept that some of the former appointees did not know they were receiving double salaries.
He said the CID is even investigating cases in which some of the appointees gave double signatures for the payments as MPs and Ministers while others who were reshuffled out of government as ministers still continued receiving salaries.
The Majority Leader also alleged that his compatriot the Minority Leader begged the president to intervene in the double salary allegations.
According to him, Haruna Iddrisu is afraid the matter may dent the reputation of Parliament if the criminal proceedings should continue.
“The Minority Leader has spoken to the president that some intervention must be done in order to save the image of Parliament” he said.
Breach of Faith
According to him, when the matter was brought to the notice of Parliament, leadership constituted a two-member committee to reconcile the figures and have monies refunded if it was established that there have been some overpayment.
The committee was made up of Cassiel Ato Forson and Dr Akoto Osei. Even before the committee will begin its work, Ato Forson was out there accusing the government of witch-hunting, a conduct Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu was disappointed with.
The Majority Leader said they found his conduct worrying especially when some of the suspects had admitted to taking double salaries.
He told Evans Mensah that the Minority Leader suggested to him that Ato Forson be taken out of the two-member committee after compromising himself with the witch-hunting allegations.
As a member of Parliament, the Majority Leader said he wished the matter had been dealt quietly given the embarrassment it will bring to all of them but said the appropriate authorities have the right conduct their own investigations.
Meanwhile, a lawyer to some of the suspects, Kojogah Adawudu has said none of the clients he is defending took double salaries.
He however stated his clients are ready to cooperate with the police CID.