Feature Article of Tuesday, 22 January 2013
Columnist: Danso, Kwaku A.
Ghana’s Cabinet and Executive Appointments: Ref: Mahama appoints more ministers
By: Kwaku A. Danso
The constitution of Ghana gives the President an open license to appoint not only as many cabinet Ministers as he deems fit, but also all town, city, metro, district and Regional Ministers as well as all Agency Heads.
What the constitution did not point out was define how to finance these appointments. Every nation has to finance her own lifestyle. Ghana has been an independent nation for over 55 years now and our leaders cannot rely on the taxpayers of Europe, America and other Western nations to finance the lavish lifestyle of our executives in government. The size of government in Ghana needs to be trimmed down. Period! Every ounce of revenue collected at the ports of Ghana, duties, VAT, NHIL, from payroll accounts, property taxes, and the loans and grants do not seem enough to meet government appetite. Ghana is still being subsidized by foreign nations, even in building our bridges and roads and highway. What can we do for ourselves?
A little careful and serious planning is all we need. Our estimate is that it costs more than $300,000 per year for each Minister, MP, or Director level executive in government for salary, housing, vehicle, petrol, meeting sitting allowances and retirement bonuses. The recent appointments of President Mahama with six Ministers of State at the Presidency alone, in a nation that as of last year did not have completed offices for Members of Parliament in the last 20 years, does not provide a good image of our people.
I wrote this for the editorial of www.globalexpressghana.com and reproduce it here to share.
Ghana's President Mahama seems to have brought some old hands from the first PNDC /NDC military junta and revolution era into the modern fire. This may seem a little strange for a new era. It is confusing to see a nation with limited resources and a budget subsidized by foreign nations appointing so many "Ministers of State at the Presidency". Some Ministries like "Chieftaincy Affairs" simply do not add much value and should be abolished. One has to ask for job definitions and responsibilities since each of these have to be paid like a Minister with hundreds of thousands of dollars per year each.
Perhaps the interesting executive decision seems to be the specific appointment of specific "coordinators" to implement specific policies of campaign promises. President Mahama may not have much managerial experience, but this decision is something we highly applaud as the first positive and serious step towards implementation of any policy. We do not remember the last time this has been done by previous Ghanaian leaders in the post-Nkrumah era. Perhaps one should give the President a chance of hope.
Whether the President can crack the proverbial "Boarding School" whip to get the job done, or leave things to chance or to God as has been done in previous administration, is left to be seen. In general nobody, and we repeat nobody gets a job done without some motivation and incentive. There are few self-motivated people in life as exception. Saints are few in life. The usual incentive is usually financial reward or a cane in the back, as in the olden days of Boarding School discipline.
If we can make any recommendations, it is for the President to take his job more like a Management job, not like a Preacher. He should not act like a big African Chief with women's cloth spread on the ground for him to step on while his people die of preventable causes such as malaria, lack of water and decent clean living conditions, and unable to compete globally due to poverty caused by ignorance of how the world works, and leadership neglect. The President should be conscious of public funds as if they were his own family budget.
Basic management would demand that if one is to implement the "presidential priority projects", as our new President Mahama calls them, he will need money and not mere talk, as some previous Presidents have done in the last few decades. We strongly recommend for the President to throw out of his mind the old myth that there are some European and American taxpayers who will cough up money for him to build schools and Universities or water systems for his people. Ghanaians have enough well qualified people around the world. The Ghanaian people also pay one of the highest duties and taxes on the African continent. We strongly recommend for the President to sit down with his Ministers of Finance and these Project Directors and use a computer Spreadsheet to itemize Revenue sources and Project costs and then crack the whip. This takes long hours and days of thinking and planning. However, it can be done as others have done!
We wish our best to the President. May God bless Ghana and the good people of Ghana.