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Opinions of Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Columnist: citinewsroom.com

Marian Ansah writes: 998 staff indefensible; don’t be hypocritical

Just when I thought President Nana Addo’s 110 Ministers of state was enough to get Ghanaians incensed, this government has set another record of having as much as 998 staff at the presidency.

A report on the Presidency’s staff establishment submitted to Parliament, pursuant to the Presidential Office Act, 1993 (Act 463), shows that the war against rising public wage bill is far from being won. The report indicates that the presidency staff establishment is made up of nine Ministers of State, 27 Presidential Staffers, 256 junior political appointees, and some other 706 persons including domestic and household workers and civil servants.

Details of appointment

A review of the reports shows a departure from the immediate Mahama regime and past regimes. For instance, one wonders why the Presidency would have a portfolio called “Lady in waiting” when the roles of this position are not clear. As such, Ghanaians may not evaluate whether this position and many others within the presidency adds value to the people of Ghana. And there is also the nonsensical appointment of an overseer for a National Cathedral we were made to believe was being funded with money from private investors. Can the government explain why it has to foot the salary of an Overseer not offering service to the state? Ghanaians can get value for their money by having the Presidency doing away with the positions that in one way or the other is a duplication of roles that can be undertaken by one or two officers. For instance, it makes no sense to have about four directors of communication with deputy directors as well as several special assistants under various portfolios.

It was generally expected that President Nana Addo’s administration will reduce the number of staff at the presidency, given its promise to protect the public purse. However, it appears this objective changed as soon as the new administration settled in office. The decision to appoint almost 1,000 staff is very inane and no excuse will suffice. It is either this government is hypocritical or has become very complacent.

Impact of huge numbers

The obvious impact of this untamed rise public sector employment is the ballooning wage bill which only helps in crowding out the resources that would have been used in funding development projects. In addition, this would impact on the budget for government machinery. Government has sought to justify its decision with the excuse that the Nana Addo administration is operating with a budget less than that of John Mahama’s.

“…Our list, for example, is a little above the President Mahama list but if you look at the budget for office machinery under President Mahama it is way above our budget…For 2017 they had about ¢3 billion but we came in 2017 with about ¢1.5 billion,” Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid had said.

However according to the Executive Director of IMANI Africa, Franklin Cudjoe, the budget that has gone into government’s machinery under the current administration has shot up since it took over from the previous administration.

He said “Though the Mahama administration actually overran its budget by in some regard, GHC 200 million and GHC 99 million between 2012 and 2013, the NPP ballooned the figure to GHC 1.5 billion after taking over in 2017.”

Franklin Cudjoe further indicated that in 2018, the NPP government had allocated GHC 3 billion which is GHC 2 billion more than Mahama had, to government machinery.

If Mr. Cudjoe’s figures are anything to go by then one can say Nana Addo’s administration has been characterized by officialized wastage. And I side with Mr. Cudjoe’s position that the wastage that has characterized Nana Addo’s bloated government only makes corrupt officials under the previous administration saints. This government should get its act together.