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General News of Friday, 2 February 2018

Source: The Herald

Kennedy Agyapong calls Agric Minister a liar

Many continue to doubt the veracity of the Food and Agriculture Minister’s claim that his sector, created a whooping 745,000 jobs in 2017, as a result of the government’s Planting for Food and Jobs programme.

The latest to join those seeking further and better particulars from Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, is the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central, Ken Agyapong, who says the figure is an exaggeration, which he is not prepared to defend.

“The figure is too big. If you employ this huge number as a result of the programme, the impact it will create in this economy, will be huge, me I can’t defend this”, he said.

Just after President Akufo-Addo told journalists at the Flagstaff House that, he could not tell the number of jobs his administration has created, Dr. Akoto-Afriyie, announced government’s Planting for Food and Jobs programme in its first year alone, created some 745,000 jobs.

The Agric Minister, said the jobs were created in the areas of input supply and distribution of surplus food resulting from the programme.

Speaking to the media, the Minister, said the government was hoping to create 750,000 jobs by the time the programme was rolled out and is getting close to achieving that feat.

“I am glad to say that when we did the calculation, we came close to 745,000 jobs created in the rural areas,” he told a journalist.

But his former colleague MP, is doubtful of this, saying the number mentioned by his fellow party member, was not possible because if indeed 745,000 were employed, it would have changed the entire unemployment situation in the country, and by extension widened the economy.

The controversial MP, said this on Adom FM’s Badwam programme yesterday in support of the Minority National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) demand for facts and figures from the Agric Minister.

The MP, chided the Minister saying, his propaganda will not help the government and country in any way. According to him, the now opposition NDC, also peddled similar falsehood in the past which does no good for the country.

“The propaganda does not help us. Someone will say I have employed 745, 000, the next person [NDC] will say they have employed 2 million, it does not help us”, he advised.

The Central Regional Chairman of the NDC, who raised the issue first said he could not come to terms with the Minister’s dishonesty.

Shocked Allotey Jacobs remarked, “I never knew Agric Minister can lie like that. Why, is there no pastor in his house? The NPP lied in opposition and they are continuing the lie even in government.

West Hills Mall is collapsing; all the companies there are leaving, if this 745,000, have been recruited under the Planting for Food and Jobs, this is what we will see”?

The NDC Minority is convinced that it is statistically impossible for the government to claim it has created 745,000 jobs.

Their spokesperson on Agriculture, Eric Opoku, said government’s own records show at best it created 822 jobs for agricultural extension officers.

“If you wanted to use 235, 00 metric tonnes of fertilizer to create 745,000 and you are able to supply just 43%, definitely you cannot create that quantum of jobs as you envisaged. It can never be found anywhere in our country…it is never is factually inaccurate,” the MP told Joy FM.

The Minority, said the Minister’s claim could qualify for “a big joke of the year”.

Meanwhile, former vice chairperson of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Susan Adu-Amankwah, has described as “voodoo figures” Dr. Afriyie Akoto’s claim.

“This is a magician waving his wand and then ‘abracadabra’; voodoo figures [pop up],” the former Vice Chairperson said.

Interestingly, the Minister, has remained silent refusing to come out to defend his claim, though many continue to question it.

NPP communicators, have also shied away from commenting on the claim.