An ambivalent statement from the GNPC concerning payments to former top managers has deepened the confusion and raised further questions about the legality of the transaction.
The company statement released Monday, in one breath claimed it was ex-gratia and in another breath claimed it was end of service benefits paid to the former managers.
Former Chief Executive, Tsatsu Tsikata and his wife Esther Cobbah, who was Public Affairs Manager of the GNPC, were reportedly paid 1million cedis and 600,000 cedis respectively.
Another former Chief Executive, Nana Boakye Asafu-Adjaye and a former Field Evaluation and Development Manager, Mr. Benjamin Dagadu who is currently a deputy minister also received unknown sums of money. The confirmation of the payments came after former Deputy Energy Minister KT Hammond raised concerns about the payments.
The payments come some 15 years since the quartet departed the public corporation after a change in government in 2001.
Ex-gratia is a moral obligation and not a requirement while the end of service benefits is often spelt out in the terms of employment.
Explaining the legal position on the payments to former government employees, lawyer Dennis Agyei Dwomoh told Joy FM Super Morning Show on Tuesday, that GNPC is a creature of law and, therefore, its conduct is bound by its creator – the 1992 constitution.
For the Managing Director position in particular, he said whatever entitlements he receives must be stated in the letter of employment under the hand of the president of Ghana, who is the appointing authority.
Questioning the legality of the payment, he said he is yet to see any regulation requiring the payment of ex-gratia to departing Chief Executives.
The payments, ex-gratia or end-of-service benefits to the other top officers must also be documented as part of the conditions of service set by the Board of Directors.
He wants further clarification from the Board of GNPC which approved the payments to the four former managers especially when the beneficiaries are believed not to have made any demand.
To the best of KT Hammond’s knowledge, Tsatsu Tsikata never made a claim for ex-gratia or end of service benefit while the NPP government was in power between 2001 and 2008.
There are also questions regarding the nature of the exit of the four staff. For Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, he was re-assigned to the Ministry as an Energy Advisor and later resigned.
A departing top manager of a public corporation may leave after six months notice or paid six months salary if his appointment is terminated.
Dennis Dwomoh wanted to know if the payments given to the GNPC quartet was compensation for sudden termination of contract.
Deputy Head of Joy FM’s Political Desk Malik Abass Daabu wondered how an employee who had been moved from one department to another within the same ministry could be said to have been removed and therefore entitled to severance package.
Malik stressed that the tax-paying public is entitled to an explanation by GNPC because as a public corporation it remains accountable to the Ghanaian people.
Ex-gratia in Ghana is popular with MPs and ministers who have left office. Despite being a prescribed provision in the 1992 Constitution, it is nonetheless a controversial subject because it is believed politicians abuse the provision.