Item thirteen OccupyGhana condemns Flagstaff House Ghc1,000 'soli'

OccupyGhana has condemned the payment of GH¢1,000 ‘soli’ to journalists by the Chief of Staff.

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President John Mahama and Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah play

President John Mahama and Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah

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News about a good number of journalists receiving huge sums of money after a meeting with the Chief of Staff at the Flagstaff House, continues to generate heated debate.

The latest group to condemn the action is OccupyGhana (OG) - a fast-growing pressure group campaigning against widespread corruption whilst promoting good governance in the country.

According to the group, the payment of GH¢1,000 ‘soli’ to each of the about 200 journalists by the Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah, is clearly an act of corruption and comes at a time when the government is not able to support basic needs of the people with funding.

Paying of monies to journalists by way of showing solidarity to them – and principally aimed at courting their sympathy – has been going on for years and it generates heated debate whenever such offer is given.

“OccupyGhana is concerned about the brewing story that after a social event for journalists organised by the new Chief of Staff, Mr. Julius Debrah, envelopes containing amounts of money (reportedly GH¢1,000) were distributed to the journalists. Considering the number of journalists present, it has been estimated that nearly GH¢100,000 was distributed after that event.”

OG said the chief of staff was dolling out cash to journalists at a time when “SHS’ in the northern parts of Ghana are unable to re-open for the third term because of lack of funds,” adding, “It comes at a time when Ghanaians are having to struggle with DUMSOR, which is due, at least in part, to the government’s inability to pay its debts to the Electricity Company of Ghana and the Volta River Authority, estimated at some GH¢1.7 billion.”

The pressure group said the media were inundated with news about MMDAs owing the Ghana Water Company Limited some GH¢106 million in unpaid water bills and recalled, “University students have been notified that from the next academic year, they would be expected to pay utility bills, probably for the first time in this country’s history.

“Although GH¢100,000 may look and sound like chicken feed to some, the country’s economic situation is so dire and desperate that this is the time that every brown pesewa of public funds ought to be channelled into fixing our problems.”

“Surely, this is not the time to splurge, overindulge and grease the gravy train. It is an insult to the Ghanaian who is forced to sleep in the heat or who has to suspend work on account of the harsh effects of the DUMSOR, to read that ranking high on the Government’s priorities in these times, is the distribution of free monies to journalists for no work done. This ‘Father Christmas’ mentality ought to stop forthwith!”

According to OccupyGhana, “There is no doubt in our minds that Soli is a wrong, despicable and repugnant act of corruption, especially when it is the taxpayer’s monies that are being used to fund and support it.”

They said, “Even if it is claimed that the Government was not the source of those funds (which would be a barefaced lie), the fact of the person occupying the high office of chief of staff of the Republic of Ghana, doling out cash to journalists for no work done, is at the very least an abuse of power.”

They challenged President Mahama to publicly condemn the soli sharing and “rebuke the chief of staff in no uncertain terms, challenging the president to make a public announcement that henceforth there would be no distribution of monies or any other forms of inducement to any persons at any state functions.

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