Parliament vets five more ministers
Accra, Feb 8, GNA – The Appointment Committee of Parliament on Thursday vetted five more personalities nominated by President John Dramani Mahama for ministerial positions.
They included Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, Minister designate for Government Business in Parliament, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Minister designate for Trade and Industry, Mrs. Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, Minister designate for Justice and Attorney-General, Mrs. Dzifa Attivor, Minister designate for Transport and Emmanuel Kofi Armah Buah, Minister designate for Energy and Petroleum.
Dr Kunbuor when he took his turn justified the necessity of his portfolio, explaining that even though the African Peer Review Mechanism frowned on that position, experience had shown that majority leaders, who were not ministers of state, found it cumbersome laying papers in the House of Parliament.
He assured the Committee that he would pursue the speedy reformation of the Standing Orders of the House to reflect current challenges.
Other nominees, who waded into contentious issues, were politely halted in their tracks by the Committee’s Chairman and First Deputy Speaker, Ebo Barton-Odro, who deftly parried questions that bothered on judgment debts and the controversial 51 million cedis payout to embattled businessman Alfred Woyomo from the nominees.
When Mrs. Appiah-Opong had her time, MP for Ashiaman and Deputy Majority Leader, Alfred Agbesi sought her opinion on judgment debts, but Mr Barton Odro held that since the President had appointed a Sole Commissioner to adjudicate the matter, committee members should not bring the issue up at the sitting.
Mr Agbesi maintained that the query was relevant and legitimate; the Committee Chairman was resolute in not allowing that line of inquiry.
Mr Barton-Odro also disallowed a question on the Woyomo scandal asked by Maame Pokuaa Sawyer, the MP for Agona East, demanding answers to the Woyomo scandal, making clear that it was not appropriate for the Committee to talk about that issue because it was before a competent court of jurisdiction.
Mrs Appiah-Opong, who gave her opinion on the call for decoupling the Attorney-General from the Ministry of Justice, noted that the arguments put forward to justify proposal were not compelling enough.
She said those proponents had not brought out enough basis for their argument, stating that losing few political cases as espoused by those calls, did not necessitate the decoupling of the Attorney-General from the Justice Ministry.
The nominee noted that even though the Attorney-General’s Department had lost some important cases, she would apprise herself of the facts of those instances, arguing that it was partial to blame the department for loosing cases when it had also won thousands of other cases.
She said even though Government was pursuing interventions aimed at attracting more lawyers to the department, she would ensure that attorneys at the department pursued further training to bring them at par with their colleagues in private practice.
Mrs Appiah-Opong also stated her position on the controversial gay rights issue, saying she disapproved of that sexual orientation, and that the law was explicit on the criminality of ‘having unnatural carnal knowledge’.
On expunging the death penalty from the country’s statutes, she said research had shown that capital punishment had not deterred people from committing heinous crimes and that the death penalty sentence should rather be commuted to life sentence without parole.
She said she would in consultation with the chief justice, also work towards ensuring that more courts were built in the districts to dispense justice in the rural areas.
‘My vision, should I be given the nod, is to ensure efficient, effective and prompt service delivery since justice delayed is justice denied’, the nominee declared.
Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Trade and Industry Minister-designate, on his part stated that Ghana would not sing into any agreement that would not inure to the benefit of the country.
He said that he would promote an enterprise development centre to build the capacity of indigenous businesses to enable them compete favorably with their foreign counterparts.
Mr Iddrisu said that the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act needed revision to ensure that foreign businesses paid the required taxes to revenue institutions.
He said he would ensure that standards were set for local producers to ensure the full protection of consumers.
Mrs. Ativor, nominee to the Transport Ministry, told the Committee that Ghana’s quest to become the sub-regional aviation hub necessitated the establishment of a national carrier.
She said a private-public partnership was being sought to create the national airline, pointing out that she would pursue that policy when confirmed as the substantive minister.
Mrs Attivor also indicated her intention to empower the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) to make it more effective, pointing out that plans were in the offing to elevate the body to the status of an authority and give it the power to arrest and prosecute people who flout road traffic regulations.
She also pledged to pursue existing interventions to improve and construct aerodromes and airports in regional capitals to open up those areas to business and investment opportunities.
She again pledged to take steps to enhance safety on the Volta Lake.
Mr Buah, Minister designate for Energy told the Committee members that even though it was necessary that government subsidized some petroleum products like Pre-mix fuel, kerosene and Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) for social reasons, it was equally important that the total revenue inflow of the country was considered before such interventions were made in view of its effects on the economy, indicating that subsidies had been projected at 2.5 billion cedis per annum from a previous high of 1.5 million cedis.
He said he would also work at improving the operations of the Electricity Company of Ghana to make the outfit function effectively and efficiently, indicating that the utility distributor will be broken up into four small units to control operations of various regions in the country.
Meanwhile, Ms. Sherry Ayittey, nominee for Health, Mr Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, nominee for Youth and Sports, Dr Henry Siedu Daannaa, nominee for Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs, Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, nominee for the Interior and Mr Mark Woyongo, nominee for the Defence Ministry have been scheduled to appear before the Committee on Friday, February 8, 2013.
Nii Armah Ashietey, nominee for Employment and Labour Relations, Mrs Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare, nominee for Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Mr Nyon Bilijo, nominee for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development and Mr Paul Evans Aidoo, nominee for the Western Region, will also appear before the Committee on February 11, 2013.
Mr Samuel Sarpong (Ashanti Region), Mr E.K.T. Addo (Central Region), Mr Bede Ziedeng (Upper West Region), Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo (Greater Accra Region) and Mr Alhassan Azong (Presidency) would be heard on February 13.
Five ministers penciled to serve at the presidency would be heard on February 14. They are Dr Mustapha Ahmed, Mr Abdul Rashid Hassan Pelpuo, Mr Fifi Kwetey, Alhaji Lumina Mohammed Muniru and Mrs Comfort Doyoe Cudjoe Ghansah.