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General News of Friday, 2 February 2001

Source: GC

Eleven Minsiters Sworn-in

Eleven Cabinet Ministers were yesterday sworn into office by the President, Mr J. A. Kufuor.

The ministers, who constitute the first batch of approved nominees, are Mr J. H. Mensah, Minister and Leader of Government Business; Dr Kwame Addo Kufuor, Minister of Defence, and Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Minister of Finance.

Others are Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice; Alhaji Malik Yakubu Al-hassan, Minister of Interior, and Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, Minister of Trade and Industry.

The rest are Major Courage Quarshigah (rtd), Minister of Agriculture, Mrs Gladys Asmah, Minister of Women's Affairs; Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, and Professor Dominic Kwaku Fobih, Minister of Lands, Science and Technology.

The Ministers swore the oaths of secrecy, allegiance and ministers of state. Mr Kufuor, who administered the oaths, enjoined the new ministers to ensure transparency in their work. He said they should be accountable and caring and serve the people of Ghana with distinction.

President Kufuor further urged the new ministers not to shirk their responsibilities, but rather accept the consequences of their actions and inactions. According to the President, the new era that has dawned on Ghana requires ministers who would be able to pursue objectives that fulfill the expectations of Ghanaians.

In this regard, he hoped the new ninisters would not be found wanting in their bid to serve Ghanaians. Mr Mensah, in response, said he and his collegues would work in the best interest of the country.

He noted that there is much that the government ought to do and promised that they would abide by honesty and serve in truth to make the country a prosperous one. Earlier in the day parliament unanimously approved the nominations of 12 ministers-designate vetted by the Appointments Committee, report Kojo Sam and Joe Okyere.

The committee's report said all of them have the requisite qualifications and experience to handle their portfolios. The Chairman of the committee, Mr Freddie Blay, who moved for the acceptance of the report, said in the course of vetting, no adverse reports, petitions or objections were received on any of the nominees.

Dr Kwaku Afriyie, Minister of Lands, Mines and Forestry, was, however, out of the country at the time of the swearing-in by the President. Mr Blay said in vetting the nominees, three methods were adopted by the committee to get an informed opinion as regards their competence, eligibility and experience.

First, the media was used to solicit public opinion in the form of written memorandum or oral submission on the suitability or otherwise of each nominee. He said the second method was the reliance on credentials which, procedurally, have been a good source of evidence in determining the qualification and experience of nominees.

These were verified with the assistance of experts from two state intelligence institutions. Seconding the motion for the adoption of the report, the Minority Leader, Mr A. S. K. Bagbin, drew the public's attention on how the committee operates within the confines of the Constitution.

He submitted that the work of the committee is not a trial one but to know more about the nominees. "The public should really know what happens at the sittings before they go to town," Mr Bagbin said.

The minority leader stressed that, judging from the perception that the public has about the committee, "we should, in the near future, try to iron out a new formula in the vetting of Presidential nominees". He said there has been a situation where the committee has had to ask for some time to go extra deep into the backgrounds of some of the nominees.

He said this is the first time that vetting is reported live on radio. "This is positive and we should applaud it," he added. Mr Bagbin said members of the committee were convinced that the nominees are good materials. "So far, so good and I call on the House to approve the nominations," he concluded.

Mr Ken Dzirasah, Second Deputy Speaker, supporting the motion, said the House has had a fair idea of the competence of the nominees and "we recommend that the being report be approved so that the government machinery does not grind to a halt". Mr M. A. Seidu, MP for Wa Central, also supporting the motion, commended the committee for good work a done.

He, however, said instead of presenting an omnibus report, the committee should, in future, dwell on individual nominees. Mr Kosi Kedem, MP for Hohoe South, in his contribution, said the NPP Government must realise that it has raised the expectations of the people to dizzy heights and the ministers must justify the confidence reposed in them.

He reminded the new ministers that "we have been together for the past four years and we should not expect you to barricade yourselves in your offices so that when we come to see you, we do not queue for hours".

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