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Heated argument in Parliament over which govt increased peacekeeping allowance

PTHERE was a heated argument in Parliament yesterday over which government increased the peacekeeping allowance for Ghana’s military personnel on international peace-keeping assignments.

Personnel of the Ghana Armed Forces on peace-keeping missions currently take US$35 daily as part of their remuneration. 

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in his address to Parliament on the state of the nation in Accra last Thursday, said his government had increased the daily remuneration of personnel from the US$31 to US$35. 

But the Member of Parliament for Builsa North, James Agalga, seconding the motion for a debate on the President’s address, said the claims were inaccurate and a misrepresentation of the facts surrounding the increment. 

According to Mr Agalga, the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), even in opposition, acknowledged that soldiers were receiving US$35 under the erstwhile John Dramani Mahama administration. 

“The increase in UN peacekeeping allowance is not something that he [President Akufo-Addo] effected. In fact, the increase was effected by President John Dramani Mahama,” he said.

Mr Agalga, a former Deputy Interior Minister, expatiated that the late President Mills increased it from US$19 to US$30 and subsequently to US$31 by former President Mahama. 

“After announcing the US$1 increase, it was rejected by the military personnel and under pressure, Mahama was forced to increase it by another US$4,” he said. 

“Mr Speaker, with this narration, as also captured by the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) own manifesto, it is palpably wrong for the President to attempt to take credit for the increase in the UN peacekeeping allowance,” Mr Agalga said. 

In a rebuttal on a point of correction, however, the Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, said the increment referred to in the manifesto was never implemented by the erstwhile government. 

He explained that before the NPP took the mantle of leadership of the country, following the announcement of an increment, “no single soldier under the watch of the previous administration up to December 31, 2016, got any payment beyond US$30 per day.”

He continued: “Mr Speaker, when the NPP came to power, what is even more worrying is that [peacekeeping] soldiers were owed US$13 million. I just want to put the facts right that it was until February 13, 2017, that soldiers received US$35.” 

Unable to come to a determination as to who deserved credit for the upward adjustment of the allowance for the soldiers, the Speaker of the House, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, urged members to officially file a question to have the official records of peacekeepers. 

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI 

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