Information and Media Relations Minister, Mahama Ayariga, has said one of the major achievements of the John Mahama administration within its first 100 days in office is a commitment to solving existing problems while maintaining fiscal discipline.
According to Mr. Ayariga, one of the important things President Mahama’s administration did within the first 100 days was to get the Budget approved by parliament.
He explained on Joy FM Super Morning Show, Tuesday that the approval of the budget is a big step because “the budget is the one, all-encompassing, policy document of any government that states everything that is supposed to be done in education, health…etc.”
He explained that the budget ensures remarkable discipline in implementation of projects.
He stated this fiscal discipline has contributed in part to the labour agitations because of government’s conviction to spend within budgetary allocations. He said some of the problems have arisen because demands of government workers have not been in consonance with the fiscal plans outlined in the budget.
He explained that the issue with the power situation was due the bursting of the West African gas pipeline which supplies the generators with natural gas to power the engines and “failure to invest in the sector according to a disciplined time schedule”.
But he indicated President John Mahama has been working on solving the problem. He explained recent visit by the President to Nigeria to meet with President Goodluck Jonathan and the recent commissioning of the T3 power infrastructure at Takoradi were committed steps by government to solve the electricity problem.
According to the Minister, this administration within the first 100 days has also been able to nominate all its ministers and though the deputy ministers are currently being vetted, the speed with which this was done must be applauded.
“If the Minority NPP has not boycotted Parliament and we have the full complement of the committee members working together, perhaps we’d finished vetting all of them”, he indicated.
According to Mr. Ayariga, even though the Constitution imposes some constraints in terms of appropriately ensuring national representation on any President when constituting his government, the current administration has swiftly represented the country at the ethnic, regional and social-structure levels, and this must be commended.
According to him, President Mahama’s government has the largest number of women appointments, which he said stands at 30%.
Also, for the first time, government has appointed a physically challenged person, a blind person, as a Minister of State, he said.
The Minister lamented the neglect by New Patriotic Party (NPP) Members of Parliament of important constitutional requirements. According to him, this is causing a strain on the “one-sided house”.
He said “Nobody can show that these nominees are either people who are incapable, don’t have any experience in public life, and therefore cannot deliver”.
Furthermore, he stated that it is not possible to bring in a former minister to take up a deputy ministerial position.
The recent appointments of 36 deputy minister nominees have received mixed, but largely unfavourable reactions from the Ghanaian public and some experts.
But the Minister explained, there was the need to constantly bring in new people for them to get the opportunity to rise up the political ladder.
According to the Minister, there is a clear policy direction and infrastructure to implement reforms. He described the appointments of Dr. Stephen Adiyiah , P.V Obeng, E.T Mensah, Alban Bagbin and Cletus Avoka, popularly known as a ‘five wise men’, as a taskforce to ensure that the objectives of reforms in specific areas are implemented.
Challenges in the first 100 days
Mr. Ayariga admitted that one of the challenges of President John Mahama’s administration within this first 100 days, is that they have not been able to convince the NPP to come on board, and also to get them to respect the value of Ghana’s Constitutional bodies.
“Governance is not just a one-sided event. We need to work together”, he said.
According to him, one clear indication and direction of President John Mahama is to unite this country around a common vision, but the NPP’s posture towards government is making the realization of this objective a big challenge.
Touching on the state visit of Iranian President, the Minister said Dr. Ahmadinejad is currently head of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which Ghana is a founding member. But importantly, the Iranian community has investments in the health and education sectors here in Ghana.
“This is a country that neither looks East nor West but looks forward, so we relate with everybody”, he said. He explained that Ghana pursues a non-aligned foreign policy, so though we may not endorse what actions of a country, Ghana relates with nation.
He confirmed that the Iranian President will hold bilateral talks with the President Mahama, but will visit the Ismlamic University in North Legon and later cut sod for a number of Iranian infrastructures.