Dr Cassiel Ato Forson — Minority Leader
The Minority Caucus in Parliament said it was not boycotting the two-day vetting of six new ministerial nominees but was participating to ensure greater scrutiny and to protect the public purse.
However, it would not subscribe to a consensus vote at the level of the Appointments Committee as has been the practice, but would ensure that the matter was brought before the full House for a vote to be taken in secret.
The action according to the Minority group, was to insist that government cut down on its appointments and merge some of the ministries to demonstrate leadership in these difficult times.
On Sunday, the leadership of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) directed that the Minority in Parliament should not approve any of the new ministerial nominees.
A statement signed and issued by its General Secretary, Fifi Fiavi Kwetey, said the party had long expressed concern over the large size of the current government and shared the views of most Ghanaians, including civil society organisations, that it must be reduced, bearing in mind the current economic crisis the country has been plunged into by the government.
At a press conference yesterday, minutes before the vetting process commenced, the Minority Leader, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, called for the immediate reduction in the number of ministers from the current 86 to 65.
He suggested the merger of ministries including Information and Communication, Transport and Railways, Chieftaincy and Tourism, Sanitation and Local government.
Also, the Minority Leader, flanked by the leadership of the caucus and other members, called for the immediate scrapping of all amorphous creations and “waste-pipe, job-for-the-boys” appointments since the assumption of office of President Akufo-Addo in 2017.
Some of the amorphous creation pointed out by the Minority Leader included Youth Ambassador for Diaspora Affairs, Policy Associate, Chief Executive of Public Sector Reforms, Overseer of the National Cathedral, Church Relations Manager, Diaspora Church Mobilisation Officer, Policy and Coordinator Analyst and Focal Person, La Francophonie.
Dr Forson said it was unconscionable to note that government has added a whopping GH¢82 billion to its expenditure for 2023 compared to 2022.
He alleged that between January and September of 2022 (nine-months), the presidency saddled Ghanaians with a number of operational cost, including the fuel bills paid at the presidency within the nine-month period under review cost Ghanaian taxpayers a colossal GH¢ 51.1 million (51,109,137.86).
Also, he said the President’s regional tours last year cost the country a staggering GH¢16.9 million (16,906,272.45).
Reacting to the Minority press conference, the Deputy Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, told the media that the nomination by the President was part of the constitutional imperative.
He indicated that the rejection or otherwise of a nominee was in line with the Constitution, adding that a general secretary of a political party could not sit in a party office and issue a press statement for the purpose of political expediency.
Mr Afenyo-Markin insisted that for the general secretary to direct Members of Parliament to reject a nominee was a sign of disrespect to the House, the Speaker and, indeed, the President.
“And clearly, what the Minority is telling Ghanaians is that they don’t respect the Constitution and that the new Minority leadership is not the type of leadership with the ability to respect the Constitution and that they don’t have the thinking capability,” he said.