By Stephen Odoi-Larbi
Minister-designate for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Thomas Kwesi Quartey, yesterday appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament and told members that integration in the region is suffering a set-back, because there was no political will to ensure its realization.
He cited the Mali crisis where there was no political will by majority of the African States and so had to rely on its colonial masters to lead the way forward in fighting the rebels out of the West African country.
Ambassador Quartey’s comment was in reaction to a question posed by the Appointments Committee Chaired by the 1 st Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Ebo Barton-Odro, on what needs to be done to ensure regional integration in the West African Region.
He had appeared before the Committee to answer to questions relating to his nomination as the deputy Minister-designate for the Foreign Affairs Ministry. Commenting further, Ambassador Quartey said lack of one common language was also a barrier in achieving regional integration.
However, he said, since most Francophone countries had showed interest in studying the Queen’s language in Ghana, it was an opportunity worth capitalizing on by the Ghanaian Government in reducing its graduate unemployment rate.
He said, for instance, Ghana could have an agreement with neighbouring La Cote d’ Ivoire by deploying some of its graduates to have a two-year service, teaching English Language in the West African country and vice-versa.
Answering questions on what could be done to check identity theft in the country, Quartey said the introduction of a centralized data base system was key in this regard and would help the substantive Minister towards realizing that goal.
He said the introduction of a centralized data-base system linking all the various National Identification Cards of citizens of Ghana would minimize if not totally eliminated, fake signatories and identity theft in the country.
The issue of non-Ghanaians using Ghanaian passports, he argued, would be a thing of the past when the centralized data-base system comes onboard.
Also appearing before the Appointments Committee of Parliament for vetting were Mr. Emmanuel Kwadwo Agyekum, Deputy Minister-designate for the Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, Dr. Bernice Adiku Heloo, Deputy Minister-designate for the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation, Mrs. Joyce Bawah-Mogtari, Deputy Minister-designate for the Ministry of Transport and Mr. Ricketts Kweku Hagan, Deputy Minister-designate for the Ministry of Finance.
Answering questions relating to his deputy ministerial appointment, Mr. Agyekum proposed working hand-in-hand with the substantive sector minister to train all the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) ‘to do the right to avoid the rift’ that normally ensues between Members of Parliament and their M/DCE.
He again promised to work closely with the substantive sector minister to ensure that the local Assemblies generate more revenue internally to finance their operations rather than to rely solely on what comes from the central government.
He mentioned, for instance, the outsourcing of a private entity to monitor all the revenues that comes to the Assembly rather than the Assembly doing it by itself.
Dr. Heloo on her part promised to work hand-in-hand with her boss to launch awareness programs to educate the public that ‘living with HIV/AIDS was not the end of the world.’
She said those infected with HIV/AIDS were faced with discrimination and stigmatization and the worst of its all are those who find themselves in high positions in the respective communities. She told the Committee that she would strongly promote the use of male and female condoms when given the nod by Parliament as a deputy Minister since ‘prevention is better cure.’
When it got to the turn of Mrs. Bawah-Mogtari, she told the Committee on what she would bring on board to help her boss, Dzifa Ativor, to achieve the best for the Ministry of Transport.
One of her proposals was to fully support the speedy automation of the operations of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA). She said once that is achieved, the issue of ‘goro boys’ issuing fake licensing would be eliminated.