‘When did you turn 60?’ – The question that generated uncertainty during the GRA boss’s presentation before PAC

During the turn of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) at the meeting, Ningo-Prampram lawmaker, Sam George sought to know the year in which the Authority’s Commissioner-General, Rev Dr Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, achieved the age of 60.
But another member of the committee said, “Isn’t it personal?” “I think it’s personal.”
This is how an unexpected ten minutes of misunderstanding about a birth year began.
But the Committee Chairman, James Klutse Avedzi, was noticeably surprised by this remark.

He disproved that argument, saying that the GRA chief is a public authority and was thus not exempted from making such material public.

Deputy Finance Minister Abena Osei-Asare said that the issue of age was a personal one.

“The officer to whom the question is directed is a public officer… It is not personal,” he said.

Sam George’s question was based on the fact that the government, through the Finance Minister, had stated that it would not extend contracts to anyone beyond the age of 60, even when their knowledge was in demand.
The ruckus grew for some time, and the Chairman had to intervene several times to ensure that Dr. Amishaddai answered the straightforward question.

After roughly 6 minutes of stress, the GRA chief sought to summon the Deputy Finance Minister to speak on his behalf again, but James Klutse Avedzi refused.

“He is a public officer. We have the laws that govern this country, fortunately, if you attain the age of 60, you have the opportunity to be given a contract. If he is on contract, he will tell us and that and that will solve it. What is your problem? If he is not up to 60, he will say it. What is your problem?”

“Mr Commissioner General, kindly respond to the question,” he directed.

Abena Osei-Asare later moved across the room to engage the questioner, Sam George, as the room remained largely silent in the lack of an answer to that single question.

There was no word from the GRA chief for another two to three minutes, only mumbling among the GRA boss, the Deputy Minister, and the group of officials who had gathered to support him.

The Chairman of the Committee was forced to adjourn the meeting for 45 minutes owing to an unexpected breakdown of the room’s public sound system.
Following the break, the GRA chief chose to answer the question.

“I turned 62 in October 2023,” he told the committee.

Asked whether he has been working on contract, Reverend Ammishaddai responded, “Mr Chairman, as far as I know, a letter was sent to the board for me to continue working until it is sorted out with the Ministry of Finance and the appointing authority.”

Speaking to the media after the sitting, Sam George described the continuous stay of the GRA Commissioner as unconstitutional, asking the President to do right by the constitution.

He stated that if the president fails, he would be obliged to address the subject on the floor of Parliament when it resumes.

Prof Ransford Gyampo, a political scientist, accused top Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) staff of unfair and fraudulent contract extensions in February last year.

The officers include the Commissioner General, Rev. Dr. Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, who has remained in office even though his post-retirement term expired in 2021.

The events at the revenue mobilisation business are causing concern and do not bode well for its continued operation.

According to Prof Gyampo, the Akufo-Addo-led “Government initiated a great policy to suspend the granting of post retirement contract to people working in some state agencies where labour and expertise aren’t scarce, as part of expenditure rationalization measures. In accordance with this many requests for post-retirement contracts have been turned down.”

True to the policy “Kofi Nti, a former GRA Commissioner General who was appointed on a 4-year contract was made to leave office halfway his contract after serving only two and half years, because he reached the retirement age of 60 before the expiration of his contract. He was not given a contract extension.

Amishaddai Amoah took over from Kofi Nti and together with Col. Damoah and Juliana Essiam who worked in the same area of revenue generation; they all attained 60 years 2 years ago.

“Col. Damoah was made to leave office because, among other controversial legal tussles, he had also attained the retirement age of 60 years. But Amishaddai was given a one year contract extension upon attaining 60 years.”Col. Damoah was made to leave office because, among other controversial legal tussles, he had also attained the retirement age of 60 years. But Amishaddai was given a one year contract extension upon attaining 60 years.

“Even though the illegitimate contract extension of Amishaddai expired in 2021, he was made to remain at post without any official contract or official cover for another one (1) whole year ending last year 2022. I am reliably informed that, the board chairman of the GRA with support from Ken Ofori Atta, is unilaterally and without recourse to his board members, seeking two more years of post-retirement contract extension for next Amishaddai. This has created deep seated tension and anger among board members of the GRA in a manner that would not auger well for revenue generation and collection,'” he revealed.

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