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Press focuses on First Lady’s refund of allowances paid her since 2017, others

The refund of allowances paid to First Lady since 7th January, 2017 and President Akufo-Addo's apology to the Overlord of…

The refund of allowances paid to First Lady since 7th January, 2017 and President Akufo-Addo’s apology to the Overlord of the Waala Traditional Area and to the people of Wa for the brutalities meted out to some residents by some soldiers early in July are some of the trending stories in the Ghanaian press on Wednesday.The Graphic reports that the First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo has returned to the state, an amount of GH¢899,097.84 (Eight Hundred and Ninety Nine Thousand and Ninety Seven cedis, Eighty Four pesewas), being the full refund of allowances paid her since 7th January, 2017.

She issued a Consolidated Bank Ghana Limited cheque with number 000002 for the amount.

The refund follows her rejection of proposed allocated salaries approved by Parliament, which has since generated controversy and engendered public debates over the propriety to consider salaries and other emoluments for presidential spouses in consonance with Article 71 office holders.

Second Lady Samira Bawumia has similarly rejected the proposal by the Ntiamoa-Baidu committee and served notice to refund same.

The office of the First Lady in a letter dated Tuesday, July 13, 2021, and addressed to the Chief of Staff and seen by Graphic Online announcing the refund of her allowances, said she remains committed to her role as the First Lady and devoted to her charity work of championing the wellbeing of women and children.

The newspaper says that the Ministry of Tourism, Creative Arts and Culture has launched the National Tourism Destination Single Window Application (App), VisitGhana.

The app is a platform on which players in the industry in the country can market their products and services to tourists across the globe by uploading their pictures, information and activities.

The App, born out of a study a couple of years ago, is part of efforts to revamp the tourism industry, improve the channels of tourism penetration and appeal to a wider market beyond the country.

At the launch of the App in Accra yesterday, the Minister of Tourism, Creative Arts and Culture, Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, said the ministry and its agencies would train 10,000 players in the tourism value chain this year and early next year as part of efforts to change the face of the sector.

The beneficiaries include tour operators and owners of hotels, restaurants and chop bars.

He said the target of his outfit was to equip the players in the industry with skills and competencies for Ghana to become the number one tourism destination on the continent.

“Under our new tourism brand, we want to create a million jobs between now and 2024 on domestic and international tourism,” Dr Awal said, and added that the feat could not be achieved without the players living up to expectation.

“We will also engage the hotel owners to make our signages bilingual, that is French and English. In future, we will introduce Chinese, German and Spanish.

“We want to attract people from francophone countries because about eight countries in West Africa are francophone,” the minister said, and urged the tourism operators to be modern and competitive.

The Graphic also reports that the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called for an immediate stop to the payment of salaries to the spouses of President Akufo-Addo and his Vice Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia.

 “Salary arrears dated back to January 2017 have since been paid to the wives of President Akufo-Addo and Vice president Bawumia, in accordance with the Committee’s recommendation which was approved by NDC and NPP members of Parliament”, it said in a press statement signed by the Union’s Secretary-General, Dr Yaw Baah on Sunday, July 11, 2021.

He said there is no legal basis for such payments, adding that although Ghanaians appreciate the roles played by the first and second ladies, it is not right to put them on salaries on the scale of a cabinet minister.

The TUC said, “Ghanaians appreciate what the first and second ladies are doing to support women’s rights, child rights, and other noble initiatives towards social and economic development of our country. But neither the Constitution of Ghana nor the laws of land assign them any official duties and responsibilities.

“Therefore the Trades Union Congress cannot support the payment of salaries to the spouses of presidents and vice presidents even if the Ntiamoa – Baidu’s Committee recommended the payment of such salaries. It is simply not right for anyone who has not been officially assigned duties and responsibilities in the public service to receive monthly salaries. The committee probably sought to regularize the payment of allowances which were being paid already. But you cannot regularise the payment of allowances which has no legal basis.”

“When the time comes for the spouses of presidents and vice presidents to be assigned official duties and responsibilities that will qualify them to receive salaries for taxpayers’ money the executive arm of government should remember the spouses of the speakers of parliament (the heads of the legislature arm of government) and the spouses of Chief Justices (the heads of the judiciary arms of government. They can also perform some official duties”, TUC added.

The Daily Guide says that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has apologised to the Overlord of the Waala Traditional Area, Naa Fuseini Seidu Pelpuo IV, and the people of Wa for the brutalities meted out to some residents by some soldiers earlier this month.

Addressing Naa Fuseini Seidu Pelpuo IV on Tuesday, July 13, 2021, at the beginning of his 2-day working visit to the Upper West Region, President Akufo-Addo indicated that the unfortunate incident was one of the reasons for his visit to the Region.

According to the President, even though the Minister for Defence, the Minister for the Interior, as well as the hierarchy of the military have come to apologise to residents of Wa, and have taken measures to deal with the soldiers who perpetrated the act, he also deemed it necessary to come to Wa personally and render an apology.

One of the fair reasons why I came, is because of the incident that occurred here in Wa between the garrison, some soldiers here and the people of Wa. The military leaders have been here and they have promised you that they will deal with those who were responsible.

“I have come to add my voice to that of the soldiers, as well as the Minister for Defence, to say how sorry I am about the incident, and to let you know that we will do everything possible to make sure that such an incident is not repeated,” he said.

With the Minister for Defence, Hon. Dominic Nitiwul, indicating that Government will be responsible for the medical bills of those who were injured, President Akufo-Addo thanked the Wa-Naa for recognising that “the promises that have been made have been kept and that now we should put that issue behind us and move forward.”

The President continued, “And I want to congratulate you on the very statesman-like pronouncements that you made on that occasion. You sure look like the senior traditional leader that you are.”

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