Business News of Wednesday, 2 January 2013
As preparations are being made towards the inauguration of President John Mahama as the fourth President of the Fourth Republic, his close aides are helping him put together his team of ministers and advisors.
Since the 1992 Constitution provides that all appointments, including ministerial ones, be made by the President, in consultation with the Council of State, the first batch of appointments to be made by the President will be those who will constitute the Council of State.
Cabinet is equally important because the President discharges his functions through ministers of state and other public officials.
Key Cabinet portfolios which the President will focus on include Finance and Economic Planning, Foreign Affairs, Justice and Attorney-General and the Interior.
The Chief of Staff will be another appointment that will be made as soon as possible.
But who becomes the Finance Minister?
Four names already making the rounds are the incumbent Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr Kwabena Duffour; Dr Cadman Mills, a brother of the late President J.E.A. Mills and member of the Economic Advisory Council; Mr Alhassan Andani, the Chief Executive of Stanbic Bank, and Mr Seth Terkper, a Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning.
Although sources close to the transition team could not confirm or deny that any of these personalities would be the next Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, other sources close to the government said Dr Duffour appeared to have a head start because of the way he had handled the position in the last four years.
Other close sources also tip Mr Terkper as the next Finance Minister.
Indications are that the race for the position of the person to keep an eye on the public purse would be between the incumbent and one of his deputies.
Dr Duffour assumed office in 2009 at a time inflation was 18 per cent, but since 2010 the inflation rate has been maintained at a single digit, hovering between 8.1 per cent and 9.7 per cent.
The cedi, which experienced a sharp decline some time in the second and third quarters of 2012, has now stabilised, appreciating against the major currencies. But the other candidates are equally strong contenders.
Mr Terkper, for instance, is part of the team at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning that has handled the economy successfully over the last four years.
Dr Mills is also part of the advisory council that provided a strategic direction for the economy in the first term of the better Ghana agenda.
Dr Duffour is a former Governor of the Bank of Ghana and former member of staff of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In 1999, he was commended at the IMF/World Bank annual meeting as one of the four best central bankers in the world.
In 2010, he was rewarded for being the Best African Finance Minister by the prestigious Banker Magazine (a subsidiary of the Financial Times). He left the central bank in 2001 to join his already established family businesses in financial services, particularly insurance.
In the insurance industry, Dr Duffour led the Star Assurance Group, and in universal banking, his distinguished leadership made Unibank one of the fastest growing banks in Ghana during the last decade.
Since 2009, when he responded to the call by the late Prof Mills to lead the team at the ministry as minister, he had been credited with achieving the longest single digit inflation in Ghana since independence.
He is also credited with creating stability and leadership at the ministry.
Dr Duffour enjoys tremendous respect among Members of Parliament (MPs) from both sides of the parliamentary divide, as well as among the Bretton Woods institutions and business circles.
Some observers believe that he should be maintained by President Mahama to sustain the stability that is crucial for the forward march of Ghana’s economy.
Dr Mills, a younger brother of the late President, is an economist by training. He is an international civil servant who worked with the World Bank Training Institution.
He has been active in Ghana since his brother became President in 2009.
It is thought by some analysts that if President Mahama wants to create an indelible memory for his former boss, he should bring Dr Mills to the Ministry of Finance as minister.
Many Ghanaians remember Dr Mills, who is thought to be a very private person who shies away from the limelight, for offering the first hints of the cause of death of his late brother.
An astute banker, Mr Andani served in management positions at Barclays Ghana and Barclays South Africa before taking up the leadership at Stanbic Bank, Ghana.
He is a knowledgeable young man and has a lot of drive and passion.
He is on the board of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) and is thought to be very global in his outlook.
Those who think that the Ministry of Finance is ready for young and dynamic leadership favour Mr Andani.
He is also believed to be a close friend of the President and that the two enjoy a trust-filled relationship.
Observers, however, believe that it would be more prudent to send Mr Andani to the Central Bank as a top official rather than the Ministry of Finance, which may be too slippery for him at this time.
Mr Terkper has been an able deputy minister at the Ministry of Finance since 2009. He is consummate revenue professional, with experience from working at the IMF. He also is one of the few people who hold the revenue matrix of Ghana on their fingertips.
Observers believe that if Dr Duffour decides to bow out, then Mr Terkper should be given the opportunity to lead the Ministry of Finance. It is believed that as a capable deputy minister, this is the time for him to step into the shoes of his boss.