The Appointments Committee of Parliament has resumed vetting of ministerial nominees amidst raging controversy that MPs were given monies to approve a nominee.
Three ministers-designates are set to appear before the committee. Monitoring and Evaluation Minister-designate Anthony Akoto Osei
Works and Housing Minister-designate Samuel Atta Akyea and Environment, Science and Technology Minister-designate Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng are expected to appear.
But there is huge public interest in the MPs themselves to get to the bottom of the bribery saga.
Cracks are appearing in the Minority as some of its leadership have been fingered in the saga. Bawku Central MP Mahama Ayariga has pointed to Minority Chief Whip as the one who was given the money to be shared to the MPs.
He has denied this, putting his caucus member in an uncomfortable position of seeking fresh witnesses to the money-sharing claim.
Joe Osei Owusu comments on the bribery saga. He says he is presiding over today’s session with ‘a lot of pain’.
He says he proposed to the Majority leader to have the committee re-constitued in order to keep public confidence in the committee. But after a careful review of the Standing Orders they concluded this is not practicable.
He says Ghanaians have become a “very cynical” people and he can understand why the public may “not trust us again”. He hopes investigations into the saga will start and end soon enough so that “our integrity will be restored”.
He stresses that Appointment Committee members meet and decide on a nominee immediately after sitting is over.
“If anybody wants to bribe us, I suggest he pays the bribe before we start. …there is no room to bribe us”, he says.
Minority leader Haruna Iddrisu also breaks his silence on the matter says ‘I will support full scale investigation into the matter to establish the truth of the matter’.
Meanwhile the nominee for Monitoring and Evaluation Minister-designate Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei is answering questions on his CV.
He is asked to explain a position on his CV – a dorm director in a university in the US. He says it was called the ‘Third World Dorm’ because it was full of students from Asia and Africa. He was “matured enough” to be in charge for two years and got free accommodation as a result.
His work is to work with ministers to achieve results in the promises detailed in the party’s manifesto. For example, the government wants to restore teachers and nursing trainee allowances and so he will work with the Education ministry to implement this according to agreed timelines.
He gives another example with the Minister for Re-organisation who is charged to create some new regions by August 2018. This minister will need support from him to meet his target.
Once Cabinet approves the performance targets, his work kickstarts.
OB Amoah: I suspect the nominees work will dovetail into the work of the Chief of Staff. He wants a response from the nominee.
AO: Chief of Staff handles the presidency but he is going to handle the results-churning machinery of government. He is to ensure that government machinery works.
MP says he finds it difficult to understand nominees role. We have a whole senior-minister cordinating some ministeries and in each Ministry there are M & E directors to track results.
AO: I am looking from information from political heads to satisfy the president. The ministers may use their M&E departments to generate information he needs. ‘My job is to police my colleagues’, he simplifies his assignment.
He says he suspects that there could be a retreat for all ministers and the Vice-President Dr. Bawumia to determine targets and plans to implement government’s agenda with clear timelines.
Mahama Ayariga: The constitution lists some KPI for education – for tertiary it is supposed to be progressively free. He says VAT Act provides that 2.5% of VAT be used to support GETFUND. Will I see you enforce the Act to make education progressively free.
AO: I should not be thinking about how I am going to enforce the constitution, I am thinking about how government can deliver results in a timely manner.
MP: I perceive your role as filling a management gap of controlling. is he to act as headmaster?
AO: I don’t like words like control. I am to assit.
Minority Chief Whip Muntaka Mubarak: he reads a definition of cordination and says there could be several overlapping functions between him and the Senior minister’s work.
AO: He says it is a possibility but his work is to assist ministers in achieving Key Performance Indicators set by government.
Muntaka: In page 333, there is talk about reducing corporate taxes and several others. When should Ghanaians expect the reductions.
AO: The Finance minister will state the timelines in the budget by March.
Minority leader Haruna Iddrisu: By far your competence and knowledge about finance proves that you are weighter than the position of Monitoring and Evaluation.
AO: He says his experience in the Finance ministry and in parliament helps him to assist his colleagues. He says he is also a member of the Economic Management Team and his finance background will be brought to bear on the committee.
Nominee is asked about working to reduce interest rates. If you are able to bring inflation down, the interest rate should come down. The model being used to achieve this is good but it needs tweaking.
HI: What are your views on zero-financing from Central bank?
AO:The law now is 5%. If somebody goes to sign an MoU that puts it as zero, he has a problem.
Haruna Iddrisu: asks a question on house financing.
AO: He says housing needs long-term financing. The current situation where landlords charge two years rent is not helpful.
Adwoa Safo: referes to a Fiscal Responsibility law in the NPP manifesto to check reckless expending. Would nominee support an insertion into the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (PFMA) which also tries to check the management of public funds.
AO: His personal view is that a Fiscal Council should be inserted into the Public Financial Management Act while the Fiscal Responsibility law is worked on.