Ghana: Unprecedented number of ministers dominates Ghanaian media

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – The large number of ministers submitted to Parliament for approval by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo dominated the media in Ghana this week with politicians, individuals, think-tanks and civil society organisations shouting their disapproval in a loud chorus.

The president on Wednesday submitted names of four ministers of state and 50 deputy ministers to parliament for approval, bringing the total number to 110.

This has angered a large number of the population who immediately expressed their disapproval for various reasons, including costs to the already frail economy, possibility of corruption and cronyism.

The state-owned Ghanaian Times in its story on Thursday, under the headline, 'Pres nominates 54 ministers of state, deputy ministers', quoted an official statement as saying that President Akufo-Addo on Wednesday submitted the names of 54 appointees to Parliament for approval as Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers.

The state-owned Graphic, with the headline, '50 Deputy ministers named' stated that "this brings the number of ministers to 50 and deputy ministers to 60, making a total of 110, the highest in the history of the Fourth Republic".

The Graphic said President Jerry Rawlings started his administration with 83 ministers and ended his second term with 82 ministers; President John Agyekum Kufuor started with 88 and ended with 93 ministers; President John Evans Atta Mills had 75 ministers, while Mr John Dramani Mahama had 84 ministers.

Information minister Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, justifying the number of ministers and deputy ministers, said a robust team of appointees was required to confront the challenges of the economy.

“If we keep doing business as usual, we cannot transform the country in the manner that we envisage,” he said.

The Graphic in a story under the headline, 'Abdul-Hamid justifies number of ministerial appointees', quoted the minister as saying the appointees would assist the President to deliver on the ambitious programme of national transformation and development which the people of Ghana had charged him to implement.

He said the Akufo-Addo administration inherited "the weakest economy", for which reason the President required a strong army to confront those challenges and resolve them in a rapid manner to put the country back on the path of progress and development.

“The President, therefore, solicits the support of the Ghanaian people in taking the difficult decisions that will ultimately transform our society.”

The president himself has defended his large number of ministers. In an interview with the Graphic and Ghana Television on Thursday, he said: “I don’t believe that my government in the Fourth Republic has big numbers in view of the swollen challenges.”

He explained that the problems facing the country, with the persistent decline in the agricultural sector, low growth rate, major issues of corruption and leakage of revenue, demanded bold and ambitious measures to address them.

“These are the background and the circumstances that were facing my government and the people of Ghana, hence they need a new paradigm shift to solve the problems.

“We have a problem and what is the best way? It is better to have men and women capable of serving the nation’s interest and to work to grow the economy,” he said.

However, these explanations have been rejected by a cross section of the population, including those who are normally charitable to the ruling centre-right New Patriotic Party (NPP).

The founding president of IMANI Africa, a policy-think tank, Franklin Cudjoe, according to the Accra-based radio station Starrfm, did not mince words about his disapproval of the size of the government saying it “doesn’t make sense”.

He said the “lawful plunder” would have adverse effects on the public purse.

Describing the development as “a very stubborn and disrespectful way of handling national affairs”, Mr. Cudjoe predicted it would lead to cronyism. “Cronyism leads to corruption. If the money doesn’t belong to you, you don’t see the need to be prudent.”

He said the president had paved the way for “competition for theft and ultimate waste if not corruption”, adding, “It doesn’t make sense because it is lawful plunder… This isn’t smart governance. It is a complete misunderstanding of what our structures stand for.”

The Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) on its part asked the President to cut down on the size of government, saying the number is “unprecedented” and “obscene” and likely to have a negative impact on the public purse.

CDD, in a press release, said the number had set a negative record for Ghana, which was already famous in the sight of the global community for having over-sized ministerial teams.

“The appointments betray inadequate sensitivity to the weak fiscal condition of the country today, as it flies in the face of the President’s promise to protect the public purse.”

The minority leader in parliament, Haruna Iddrisu, said in keeping to the huge size of the ruling NPP’s symbol, the elephant, President Akufo-Addo had appointed an “elephant-size” government that would invariably feed on the limited public finance.

He described the decision by the president to appoint an army of ministers as "shameful".

"Many of these same ministries ran effectively with lean appointees in the past," he said, suggesting that to appoint as many as three deputy ministers to some ministries would come with a humongous cost to the state.

"I believe we should have a limit to the number of ministers and number of supreme court judges appointed," he said.
-0- PANA MA/AR 18March2017

18 march 2017 08:40:22

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