Source: The Chronicle - When the Minister of Finance, Mr. Seth Terkper, appended his signature to a document in October last year, authorizing the release GHc142,071, 974.48 as gratuity payments due the overaged soldiers of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) for the 1988 and 1989 year groups, it was a great moment of joy for the then retiring soldiers.
But their joy has now been short-lived as
the amount approved for them by the Chancellor of the Exchequer has reportedly been slashed down by GAF, for reasons they do not know about. The Director of Public Affairs of the Ghana Armed Forces, Lt. Col. Aggrey Kwashie has, however, denied any wrongdoing, insisting that the retired soldiers know the truth but have gone public with the false information.
Investigations into the contentious issue by The Chronicle have revealed that on September 3, 2014, the Ministry of Defence sent a letter with reference number HA153/623/05, requesting for the release of the GHc142, 071, 974.48 for the payments of gratuities due to overage soldiers, for the 1988 and 1989 year groups of the GAF.
Upon the receipt of the letter, Mr. Seth Terkper also wrote to the Controller and Accountant General, in a letter dated October 9, 2014, authorizing her to release the said amount to the GAF to effect the payments as demanded.
The Finance Minister’s letter gave the breakdown as follows: 1988 year group –GHc99, 085,093.60. That of 1989 year group is – GHc42, 986,880.88. This brings the total figure to GHc142, 071,974.48.
To ensure that the state was not short-changed, the Defence Ministry wrote another letter to the Audit Service dated October 23, 2014, with reference number HA153/623/05 to audit the approved money.
In response, the Audit Service wrote back in a letter with reference number CGAD/DEF/45/VOL.2 stating as follows: We have verified the gratuity payment due to the over-aged soldiers of the Ghana Armed Forces for the years 1988 and 1989.
Our verification confirmed that an amount of One Hundred and Forty–Two million, Seventy-One Thousand, Nine Hundred and Seventy-four Ghana Cedis Forty-Eight Pesewas (GH142, 071,974. 48) is required to settle the bill. The letter was signed by Mr. Richard S. Kelly.
Authentic documents sighted by The Chronicle gave the breakdown for the payment to the retired soldiers as follows; Master Warrant Officers (MWO) were to receive GHc101, 133. 38 as 80% payment and GHc25, 283.35 as 20% payment, bringing their total gratuity to GHc126, 416.73. Senior Warrant Officers (SWO) on their part were to receive GHc92, 859.09 as 80% payment, GHc23, 214.77 as 20% payment bring their total to GHc116, 073.86.
Warrant Officers Class One (WO1) on their part were billed to receive GHc85, 913.32 as 80% payment and GHc21, 479.83 as 20% payment, thus making a total of GHc107, 399.15. Warrant Officers Class Two (WO11) were granted GHc80, 731.36 as 80% payment and GHc20, 182.84 as 20% payment bring their total to GH100, 914.20.
In the case of Staff Sergeants they were granted GHc72, 007.10 as 80% payment and GHc18, 001.78 as 20% payment and their total emoluments were GHc90.008.88. Sergeants were also allocated GHc68, 913.66 80% payment and GHc17.228.42 20% payment. Their total emoluments stood at GHc86, 141.08.
Though these were figures approved by the government to be paid to the aforementioned ranks, the GAF has allegedly paid a lump sum of GHc60, 000 across board, and has refused to honour the rest.
Some of the soldiers who spoke to The Chronicle alleged that apart from this obvious short change, the GHc2, 103.35 which was approved across board as their transport allowance to convey their belongings from the barracks has also been slashed down without again any tangible reasons.
Notwithstanding this, the soldiers said instead of being paid the transport allowance, they have been asked to go and collect a ticket from a transport company at Agbogbloshie in Accra, where they are forced to part away with 10% of the money they are to collect and bring the ticket back to the Supply and Transport Department of the GAF before the money is released to them.
Col. Aggrey Kwashie, responding to these concerns told The Chronicle that all the figures sighted by the paper were estimates that were sent to the ministry for payment and that it does not mean the quoted amount is what the soldiers are supposed to receive. According to him, since the retirement package is prepared ahead of time, it would be wrong for the GAF to use the current emoluments to do the calculations.
He noted for instance that if a soldier is to go on retirement in say 2017, it would be wrong to use his current pay to calculate his retirement benefits. The reason is that, by 2017, his monthly salary would have gone up – meaning he or she would be cheated if the current pay is used to do the calculation. Col. Aggrey Kwashie further said GAF always consider these things before arriving at the estimated figure.
He rejected any fishy deal saying since it is government money they are spending; the accounts are well audited by the relevant state institutions. When asked what happens to the rest of the money if they realise that after the computation, the retiring soldier was not entitled to the estimated figure approved by the government, he said in most cases the money is returned to national chest.
He, however, noted that the GAF is sometimes given the go ahead to use the remaining money on other equally important things. Aggrey regretted that after the Chief of Defence Staff had met the retiring soldiers and explained things to them at a durbar, they are still not satisfied and trying to tarnish the image of the very institution they have worked for.
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