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Ishmael Yamson Replies His Critics   
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The disagreements and controversies surrounding gratuity payments to former presidents continue unabated as Ishmael Yamson replies his critics. Mr Yamson, who chaired a committee that reviewed the Chinery-Hesse Committee report on emoluments for ex-presidents and parliamentarians said this is not the first time a sitting executive is reviewing the retirement package of a former president because the NPP under Kufuor did it.

He defended his committee’s observation that the CHC report was not approved by Parliament contrary to suggestions by some Members of Parliament. Mr Yamson said although both Majority and Minority Leaders told his committee that the report was duly approved, there was no such evidence in the hansard. He said it was therefore difficult to conclude that the report was approved. Mr Yamson also maintained that there were two ‘final’ reports on the subject- one in June and another in December- and that the two contained significantly different recommendations.

A member of the CHC, Fred Oware had stated there was only one report, explaining that what was described as a June ‘final’ was the committee’s working document. But Mr Yamson disagreed, emphasising he could produce a June ‘final’ report signed by Mr. Oware himself. The IYC Chair also rejected suggestions that there are significant differences between the recommendations made by his committee and that of the CHC. He said while the CHC recommended that all Article 71 office holders should be pensionable, the IYC rejected that. For him it is only the president and judges who cannot work after leaving office that should be pensioned and not ministers and officials. Therefore no justification, in his view, to recommend that all Article 71 office holders be pensioned.

To pension all those people, he argued, would cost the nation huge sums of money. He also touched on tax exemptions granted former presidents on allowances and monies due them which the IYC didn’t think was reasonable and therefore quashed. Mr Yamson asked Parliament to concede it erred in rushing to approve the CHC recommendation and accept responsibility for the lapses. But the Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu disagreed with him on many of the issues.

On the issue of the hansard not containing evidence of approval of the CHC recommendations, he said the approval was done in a close sitting. In such meetings, discussions and transactions are not covered in the hansard. Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said “Parliament is a master of its own rules” and described as unfortunate the president’s decision to appoint a committee outside Parliament to review a decision taken by the House.
Source: myjoyonline

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