The Executive Director at the Gamey and Co. ADR Centre, Saeed Musa-Khaleepha says the impasse between former Members of Parliament and the Auditor General over salary and ex gratia arrears can be effectively resolved using Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms.
“But that would be upon a recommendation of a High Court,” he adds.
The Auditor-General’s recent rejection of a request by some 200 former and current Members of Parliament, for the payment of salary and ex gratia arrears owed them after the exiting parliament in 2007, has resulted in a dispute between the Auditor General and the group of former MPs which includes the President, Chief of Staff and a number of current Ministers.
The former MPs, some of who left Parliament over 10 years ago, are requesting the payment of arrears of salaries and emoluments amounting to over GH¢29.7 million.
But the Auditor-General, Daniel Domelevo, in a response to a request by the Chief of Staff, Frema Osei Opare, for an audit verification of the demand by the group, described the demand of the former MPs as invalid and amounting to a conflict of interest because most of them are presently in office.
“Apart from the fact that the claim from the FFMP is invalid because the CHC report for 2005 to 2009 was rejected, it may also amount to an abuse of power or conflict of interest to make additional payment (20% salary increase per annum for four years) to former Members of Parliament (covering a period of 10 to 14 years ago) especially when some of them are now in the executive,” Mr. Domelevo indicated in his letter.
Some of the former MPs reacted angrily to the response, and declared the group’s intention to seek redress in court.
Speaking to ADR Daily on how best the issue could be resolved in a more amicable way, Mr. Musa-Khaleepha cited a provision in the Audit Service Act, 2000 (Act 584) which empowers only a High Court to intervene should there be a dispute between an aggrieved party and the Auditor General.
Section 17 (3) of the Audit Service Act 2000 states that “A person aggrieved by a disallowance or surcharge made by the Auditor General may appeal to the High Court not later than the expiration of 60 days prescribed in subsection 2.”
According to him, since section 17 (3) mandates a High Court to rule over such a matter, it’s only the court that can recommend either Mediation or Negotiation as ADR tools for an amicable settlement of the case.
“Once there is a specific provision in the law as to what they should do, that’s the step they ought to take, but we also know that ADR can be chosen even at the appellate level.
“Even though they could initiate an action, the court in its own wisdom could direct, or if parties agree that they use mediation, or they go and negotiate this between themselves and report back to the court,” he noted.
Benjamin Nana Appiah/adrdaily.com