The Deputy Minister designate for Trade and Industry, Mr Mahama Ayariga, Wednesday endured a lengthy session when he appeared before the Appointments Committee of
Parliament and was expectedly drilled over tractors he purchased under an initiative by the Agric Ministry.
The issue of the tractors had been a topical one when it broke last year and had been the sub-ject of a petition before the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) but a composed Ayariga remained unruffled, as he calmly dealt with all the questions thrown at him.
The controversy over the tractors had threatened to derail the vetting of the former Presiden-tial Spokesperson, as simmering protests a few days before the vetting appeared to have prompted CHRAJ to release its report on the matter the night before the vetting.
And despite the fact that Mr Ayariga had been cleared of any wrongdoing by CHRAJ, the committee members still grilled the nominee on the subject.
The MP for Manhyia, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, was again an active actor as he thoroughly quizzed the minister designate over the purchase of five tractors by the nominee under a scheme introduced by the Agric Ministry.
The nominee explained that although he had applied for two tractors, he had been informed by the Agric Minister that he could apply for five tractors under the scheme.
He explained that although the tractors had been registered in his name, he had been advised to set up a corporate body under which the Agric Mechanisation Centre would be operated.
He added that based on that recommendation, a company was set up.
Mr Ayariga stated that the charge of abuse of office levelled against him in respect of the purchase of the tractors had been an issue before CHRAJ and the commission had cleared him of any such abuse.
He said it was, therefore, not for him to come to any contrary conclusion in respect of that charge.
He stated that the tractors had served a useful purpose and the farmers who had benefited from the initiative had appreciated the impact of the tractors on their operations.
Mr Ayariga also addressed issues relating to the ex gratia for MPs and said the President did not err in establishing the Ishmael Yamson Committee, since his understanding was that Parliament had not concluded the matter.
Three other nominees appeared before the committee. They were Mr Inusah Fuseini, MP for Tamale Central, who has been nominated as a Deputy Minister of Energy, Mr John Gyetuah, Minister of State designate for the Presidency, and Mr Moses Mabengba, Northern Regional Minister designate.
Mr Fuseini, who was well composed during the more than two hours he spent with the com-mittee, said he would bring on board his experience as a lawyer and MP to assist the Ministry of Energy, particularly in the signing of contracts and especially in the emerging petroleum sector.
On the agitation for increase in electricity tariffs, he said it appeared the energy providers wanted to meet their cost of production in order that they would not be kept out of business.
He said given the nod, he would advise the sector minister to take a rational decision on the matter.
Mr Fuseini told the committee that the construction of the Bui Dam was very significant and would assist the government to meet its long-term production target of 5,000 megawatts of electricity.
Mr Mabengba, the Northern Regional Minister designate, stormed Parliament with a large retinue of people from the region, amidst drumming, singing and dancing.
He charmed members of the committee with his clear understanding of the questions posed to him.
The nominee, who is currently the deputy minister of the region, said he had learnt a lot dur-ing the period and that would assist him to discharge his duties well if his nomination was endorsed by Parliament.
Mr Mabengba, who is a former MP and lecturer at the University of Education, Winneba, said one of his challenges as a deputy minister was the issue of chieftaincy conflicts in the region.
He mentioned the Buipe-Kusawgu and the Dagbon chieftaincy conflicts which had been contained due to regular interactions with the chiefs in the region.
On the issue of Fulani herdsmen and their threat to peace in the region, he stated that the Regional Co-ordinating Council (RCC) had written to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make propositions for a review of the ECOWAS proto; colon free movement of humans and ‘animals, ‘since the Fulani herdsmen had abused that protocol.
When he took his seat, Mr John Gyetuah, who has been elevated from the position of Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry to the position of Minister of State at the Presidency, shared his experiences at his present ministry with members of the committee.
He said since small and medium-scale enterprises were crucial to the development of the country, there was the need for the government to intervene and provide such enterprises with adequate funding to enable them to expand their businesses.
Mr Gyetuah said, he was comfortable with the role assigned him at the Ministry of Trade and praised the substantive minister, Ms Hanna Tetteh, for the manner, in which she related to him during his stay at the ministry.
Asked whether he had undertaken trips abroad, since he assumed duty as Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, he said although there had been a number of invitations for him to attend meetings abroad, he attended only nine out of the lot.