According to the Constitution Review Commission report, the ex gratia problem is, straight up, a problem of extravagance – Ghanaians think that Article 70 office holders pay to themselves too much money than they really deserve.
So, the Article 71 question may be resolved in two main ways – one interim, the other permanent. While both ultimately depend on political will, the interim measure is the most decisive way to know if a leader is committed to resolving the question.
The interim measure is based on the fact that it is the President who has the mandate to set up or make appointment to the Article 71 committee. Based on this, he can do at least 3 things to solve the problem, even without going through the laborious amendment process:
(1) The President should be discreet in identifying the persons he appoints to the Article 71 committee. Some persons are just extravagant in their worldview. The President should avoid such. He should appoint persons who have a proven record of being high on the frugality quotient.
(2) The President should give terms of reference to the committee, capping how much can be recommended for Article 71 office holders. The term of reference should be published ahead. This way, the committee cannot be extravagant in its recommendations.
(3) The President should flatly reject any recommendation by the committee which goes above the cap he has set in the terms of reference. Game theory suggests that Parliament will reject juicy recommendations for the President once the President rejects the juicy recommendations for Parliament.
All this can be done while we figure out how to meet the threshold for amending the entrenched provision on the matter – the permanent way. The bigger point here, however, is that once JM does this, it becomes the new standard for administering the ex gratia going forward.
By: Justice Srem-Sai, a Ghanaian Private Legal Practitioner