Vetting: 110 ministers could be cheaper – Kwaku Kwarteng

Deputy Finance minister-designate Kwaku Kwarteng has defended the record size of the government noting more ministers may not mean more cost.

He argued at his vetting by the Appointments Committee of Parliament Tuesday that measures are in place to ensure that Akufo-Addo’s 110 ministers and deputies do overburden the tax-payer.

For example, government has put a freeze on buying official vehicles for government business. The MPs who are nominated deputy ministers will not draw double salary.

Unlike other deputy ministers, an MP with an additional role of a deputy minister will not see their salary go up “by even one pesewa”, the nominee claimed.

The Akufo-Addo government despite its mantra of change has ballooned the size of government to a level never seen before.

The figure is a 30% increase over the previous government’s size of 84 ministers and deputies. The president has created at least six new ministerial portfolios – Special Development Initiatives, Monitoring and Evaluation, Business Development, Zongo and Inner City Development, Regional re-organisation, and Planning.

These new positions were criticised as unnecessary because of overlapping functions with existing ministries.

The criticisms notwithstanding, the President in his fresh list has nominated a Minister of State for Tertiary Education and a Minister of Education.

The President has also nominated as many as three deputies in five different ministries – the Energy, Information, Finance, Agric and Local Government ministries.

For information and government communication, there is a Communication Director at the Presidency and a deputy plus an Information minister and three deputies.

The size of his government has been a subject of severe criticism and condemnation from the public.

The Obuasi West MP, however, is convinced the debate about the financial burden of the size of a government ‘should not be just a matter of numbers’. He said there has not been any attempt to raise taxes to satisfy the condition of service of ministers and deputies.

But the Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak disputed Kwaku Kwarteng’s claim that more ministers could be less costly. He referred to ex-gratia payments and other entitlements accruing to Article 71 office holders which includes members of the executive.