By Iddi Yire, GNAAccra, March 17, GNA - The Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) is dismayed by reports that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has nominated an additional 54 people to serve as ministers or deputies in the various ministries.
A statement issued by the CDD – Ghana and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Friday said: “When confirmed by Parliament, as they are more than likely to, that would bring the total number of ministers and deputy ministers appointed so far in the Akufo-Addo-led NPP government to an unprecedented 110”.
“CDD-Ghana considers this move and the obscene number of ministers a wrong one for several reasons,” it stated.
It said it would represent the largest ministerial team assembled by any president/head of state of Ghana since independence.
In addition, it also sets a negative record for a country infamous for its oversized ministerial teams.
It noted that the United States, a larger and more economically and financially complex country had approximately 46 ministers.
It added that similarly, India, a country of some 1.3 billion had 75 ministers.
“It is being argued that the large ministerial team will bring more focus, supervision, and efficiency to President Akufo-Addo’s ambitious governance and socio-economic plans,” it said.
In the Centre’s view, the argument is weak, as there is no proven relationship between a large government and a well-governed, prosperous society.
The statement said in addition, there was no correlation or causation between the large retinue of political heads and political/socio-economic transformation.
“What is clear and certain is that, a smaller government is a cost saving measure that signals a high level of discipline and focus of a government that wants to protect the public purse,” it added.
It said the appointments betrayed inadequate sensitivity to the weak fiscal condition of the country today; as it flew in the face of the President’s promise to protect the public purse.
It explained that it was difficult to see how appointing such a large number of ministers, who would all be on ministerial salaries and benefits, can possibly amount to the promise of protecting the public purse.
“Indeed, a reduction in the cost of running government, including appointing the minimum number of ministers required by the Constitution, particularly those drawn from Parliament, was one of the list of 10 actions CDD-Ghana urged the Akufo-Addo-led NPP government to undertake in its first year,” it said.
The statement said it undermined Ghana’s already weak state bureaucracy.
“Placing a team of politician ministers on top of the existing hierarchy of the ministries will lead to unnecessary duplication of senior personnel and eventually undermine the authority of the professional senior civil and public servants (particularly, chief directors and directors) in the same ministries; it will also encourage the politicisation of the bureaucracy,” it stated.
It said in addition, the appointment of that many ministers did not in any way help to address the structural weakness of Parliament vis a vis the Executive, which the President alluded to, in his State of the Nation Address.
“By appointing so many of his ministers and deputy ministers from Parliament, currently standing at 64 MPs, the President is further weakening the legislative body and at the same time undercutting his own promise to strengthen the institution to enable it serve as an effective check on the Executive,” it said.
“Above all, CDD-Ghana is deeply concerned about the negative signals sent out by these appointments. We note with consternation that nearly the entire presidential and ruling party campaign team as well as a large number of NPP MPs have been appointed to ministerial and other state bureaucratic positions,” it said.
The statement noted that this suggested a continuation of the anti-developmental practice of “party in government” system (conflation of the ruling party and the government), whereby political appointments were treated as ‘jobs-for-the boys’ or some form of material reward for individuals who played key roles in the election campaign of the president and his party, and an opportunity for them to rake in “rents.”
“To be sure, the president’s appointment of as many as 50 ministers and 60 deputies may have been made in strict conformity with the provisions of the 1992 Constitution and long-standing practices in Ghana’s fourth Republic,” it said.
The statement said the Centre implored the President to reduce the number of deputy ministerial nominees sent to Parliament for vetting and approval; and additionally calls on the President to publish the salaries and emoluments of all appointed public office holders so Ghanaians can begin to appreciate the true cost of governing the country.
It said CDD-Ghana fervently prayed that the NPP government did not attach an army of technical advisers to the already bloated personnel at the ministries, departments, and agencies of the state.
“In the medium term, the Centre would like to see a law passed that puts a ceiling on the maximum number of ministers and deputies the President can appoint at a time, and or make it mandatory for the President to explicitly provide the rationale for appointing more than one deputy minister per ministry,” the statement said.
“The Centre urges the Akufo-Addo-led NPP administration to be sensitive to the voice of the people and take steps to reduce the growing burden on the public purse.”