The issue of remuneration for public servants always elicits mixed reactions. Opinions diverge as discussants relative position change; how close or far off one is from the center of power obviously influences one’s understanding of the substantive issue.
The Student Front
The student front hasn’t been spared from such discussions. Over the years some students have perceived student leaders as people who take advantage of the public purse, acquiring gadgets such as tablets and the most sophisticated mobile phones while changing their wardrobe simultaneously.
This may be difficult for one to confirm or invalidate, but the reality is that student leaders have over the years obtained some amounts as remuneration. How is this amount determined? Is an approval from a legislative arm enough? Are such payments justified vis-à-vis the performance of student leaders over the years? How about diverting such funds into scholarship schemes and financial aid structures that support students yearly with amounts some have described as paltry?
The University of Ghana Situation
A look at the Proposed University of Ghana SRC budget for the first semester of 2015/2016 academic year reveals some interesting figures that sets one thinking. The proposed budget was however withdrawn by the Treasurer, Perry Johnson, on Friday September 4, 2015. Honorable members raised concerns with regards to certain items on the proposed budget while the Treasurer took members of the Legislative arm through the items on the budget. The Treasurer withdrew the budget citing low turnout (most members of the House had left) as well as the need to review some items as the reason for its withdrawal.
The withdrawn document had administrative expenses as Note 13. Executive allowance was captured as 9,300 cedis (93million (old cedis)), an amount of 800 cedis (8million old cedis) as communication and 5,628 cedis (56.28million old cedis) as Residential allowance.
Interactions with some key student leaders revealed mixed reactions. Some felt the amount for residential allowance was justified against the backdrop that aside the SRC President who resides at Jubilee Hall (739 cedis and 1,073 dollars for double occupancy), the other Executives reside at the UGEL Halls where residents pay 1,106 cedis and 1,073 dollars for double occupancy.
Others opined that students’ leaders do not deserve such amounts, be it residential or Executive allowance.
A day in the past
A look at past SRC documents makes an interesting read. The budget (second semester 2013/2014) presented by Kwesi Amo Dadson, Treasurer under the Edem Agbanna led SRC reveals a similar amount for Executive allowance. The residential allowance component is however conspicuously missing. The amount captured under Note 14: Central Administration is 9,780 (97.8million old cedis). This has sub-components such as transport, communication, responsibility, Executive allowance and other expenses. The 9,300 cedis figure in the proposed budget by the incumbent SRC leaders, has other components in addition to the 9,300 which represents just Executive allowance.
The learning principles of Psychology helps some assume such amounts for SRC Executives motivates them to work hard (reinforcement). A careful look at some components raises much questions that makes nonsense of this learning principle. An amount of 6000 cedis is the total amount for transportation for the various committees with some few components as communication. It becomes worrying when one identifies 3,000 cedis as an amount for fuel and allowance for the SRC van and driver respectively.
The raging debate might not end anytime soon, but the debate must be dispassionate. Time will tell.