General News of Saturday, 26 January 2013
The Growing unease at the Finance Ministry Joe Abbey Defends Terkper ...But says he must build bridges
By A A Yayra
With his technical competence not in any doubt, his rich experience and background notwithstanding, President John Mahama’s nominee to the position of Finance Minister, Mr. Seth Terkper will require to do more if he is to succeed at his new post.
This was the views of one of the nation’s foremost economist, Dr Joseph L.S Abbey, himself, a former Finance Minister and a key member of Economic Management Team of several Governments in Ghana who is cautioning the proud son of the Kroboland to ensure that he grows good rapport with his staff or risk blaming himself. Report sighted by The Al-Hajj from the seat of government and state security suggests that even before the Minister designate for Finance and Economic Planning, Seth Terkper goes through and get parliamentary approval to occupy his former boss’ tough but enviable seat to keep an eye on the public purse, he is already savoring a foretaste of what awaits him at the Ministry. According to the report Mr Terpker would have to do more to win the confidence of the senior technocrats of the ministry after a cold relationship in the past four years.
The Al-Hajj’s intelligence revealed that the report was the subject of a high-level meeting at the presidency chaired by His Excellency the Vice-President, Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur.
Present at the meeting this paper gathered was the outgoing finance minister, Dr Kwabena Dufuor, senior technocrats of the ministry, Mr. Terpker and their former boss, Dr. Kwesi Botwey last Monday.
However, sharing his thoughts with this paper yesterday over Mr. Terkper’s elevation from a Deputy Finance Minister position and the likely challenges to confront him, Ambassador Joseph L.S. Abbey, who is also the Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA) an independent, non-governmental think tank said a lot will depend on the nominee’s mindset, going into the substantive post.
“If you ask me, do you believe he can do the job? I will say yes, however, what I cannot comment on is his rapport with staff…, a lot will also depend on his deputy/ or deputies, and his previous relationship with the staff when he was a deputy minister, that I cannot comment on.” He averred.
According to the renowned economist, Mr. Seth Terkper, whom he described as highly competent and qualified for the job will have to, in spite of his competence, rise above pettiness if he wants to succeed.
“He will have himself to blame if he did not nurture a good rapport with the staff under him, and this goes to everybody going into a major ministry as Finance.”
Reacting to reports making the rounds on Mr. Terkpers’ alleged cold relationship with colleague technocrats at the Ministry and other agencies under the Finance ministry, Dr. Abbey said “he is going to be aware that when you get upgraded or promoted to a position, you do not have the position to fight yesterday’s wars, because you cannot be your own messenger, he must himself take stock of himself and be seen to be building bridges…, dragging or raking old wounds, you are only going to hurt yourself, especially in areas that you not enjoying the best of relationship, it’s not just about Mr. Terkper, but about Ghana. All of them must put Ghana first regardless of anything and I know he will succeed, and I pray he succeeds.
Mr Abbey also had a piece of advice for the staff of the Finance Ministry “the staff must also be mindful of the old adage ‘new king, new law’, they will have to support him to succeed because it is in their own interest and that of Ghana… if anyone thinks he or she cannot cope, you either quit or risk being fired. In accordance with article 78 of the 1992 Constitution, President Mahama on assumption of office has submitted 37 ministerial nominees to Parliament, which included Mr. Terkper, to be vetted by the august House as the substantive minister in charge of Finance and Economic Planning.
Prior to his elevation, Mr. Terkper served for four years as a Deputy Finance minister in the last National Democratic Congress (NDC) government. He is a tax expert and was the Finance Ministry’s representative on the Bank of Ghana’s monetary policy committee during his tenure as Deputy Finance Minister. He also played a major role leading to the introduction of the Value Added Tax (VAT).