Feature Article of Monday, 20 March 2017
By: Marian Ansah
The developments that have characterized President Nana Addo’s almost three months governance are too glaring to be ignored. It was initially his seeming silence on the post-election violence until his inauguration, the speech gaffe and now the appointment of 110 Ministers.
To say the latest decision is inappropriate will be an understatement. It is highly disappointing and a non-starter for a President who came on the back of zero tolerance for corruption, open governance and transformation of leadership to bow to pressure of pleasing cronies.
That the President has power to appoint members of the Cabinet is not in doubt -there has been a long-held debate about decoupling the executive from the legislature, thus minimizing the risks associated with having the same people making the law wielding power to execute them. However, such power should not be abused on the guise of rewarding party adherents.
To begin with, no one is disputing the fact that the President has appointed some of the most competent men and women to serve as Ministers. This also could be looked at subjectively on a case by case basis. President Nana Addo’s decision to balloon his cabinet has been defended by none other than himself.
The Head of state argued that Ghana was facing huge problems and he needed a huge team to fix them. And the President’s Minister for Information , Mustapha Hamid appears to be taking cue from his boss.
The Minister reportedly said the governing National Patriotic Party (NPP) “never promised a lean government” during the 2016 electioneering campaign, but the then candidate Nana Addo promised to protect the public purse and offer value for money.
This is a mediocre and cheap way of defending the country’s largest cabinet since independence. Even if Ghanaians had no problem with the size of the Cabinet, President Nana Addo could have done better by sticking with the competent men and women rather than picking people who do not even have a clue about the specific Ministries they have been appointed to serve under.
The President’s decision to go by that huge number is largely viewed as succumbing to pressure of putting the party’s interest first, while ignoring the essence of competence in the selection process.
Is Ghana financially stable to support this intervention?
Ministers of State and Regional Ministers who are Members of Parliament will be paid GHC 15,967 cedis while Ministers of State who are not MPs will be paid GHC 15, 739 cedis. Also, Regional Ministers who are not MPs will take home GHC 15,511.
Deputy Ministers who are MPs will take home GHC 14,826 cedis while non MPs will receive GHC 14, 369. Deputy Regional Ministers who are MPs will be paid GHC 14,598 monthly, while non MPs will be paid GHC 14, 142.
This means government will spend over 1.6 million cedis monthly and over 20 million cedis annually on the 110 Ministers – a huge burden on the already struggling public purse. And the argument of government sizing down the number as time goes on is not tangible enough. If government will eventually take such a decision by dismissing ‘incompetent’ Ministers why not select the few competent ones to serve right away?
There are three ministries responsible for the Agric sector alone; Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and then the Minister of State at the Ministry of Agriculture. All these could effectively have been sub-sectors under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
The creation of a National Security Ministry undermines the efficacy of the National Security Secretariat which can equally operate at such levels without a separate ministry for it. Does this Security Ministry in any way perform duties essentially separate from the Ministries of Defence and Interior?
The Ministry of Monitoring and Evaluation is another portfolio whose actual relevance most Ghanaians are grappling to decipher. Every ministry has a monitoring and evaluation unit. Must a separate ministry be created for supposed oversight responsibility?
Then we have the Ministries of Regional Reorganization and Development, Special Development Initiative, Minister of Inner cities and Zongo Development and the Minister of Business Development whose function most Ghanaians believe is already being handled by the various Business ,Investments and Promotions governmental bodies in the country.
Some believe Aviation could fall under the Ministry of Transport, while others hold the view it is a specialized field and deserves its own ministry.
Is it all about quantity?
Other countries largely viewed as the super powers, including the United States, have even bought into the idea of choosing quality over quantity. The US, which is economically and financially more stable, as compared to Ghana has approximately 46 Ministers.
India, a country with a population of about 1.3 billion has 75 Ministers. So where lies the proof that a larger ministerial team will ensure efficiency? We expect the President to cut down on the numbers and focus on quality than quantity.
The President needs to learn from the century old African adage that says, “it is not the size of the dog in the fight that matters but rather the size of the fight in the do.” Kenya and Tanzania’s Presidents, Uhuru Kenyatta and John Magafuli respectively, present lessons on how to run a lean government.
In Kenya, the size of the cabinet is constitutionally capped to not fewer than fourteen and not more than twenty-two excluding the President, Deputy President and the Attorney General.
On the other hand, whereas the Tanzanian Constitution does not limit on the size of the cabinet, President Magufuli deliberately demonstrated “change” by significantly downsizing the size of his government. In light of the fact that the huge cabinet size will have huge financial repercussions on the struggling economy, besides the inevitable duplication of roles, the President should save both Ghanaians and the bleeding economy by rescinding this decision with immediate effect.