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04.02.2009 Politics

Downsizing of MinistriesFormer Ministers challenge Mills…To tell Ghanaians how much it would save the country

By Stephen Odoi-Larbi - Ghanaian Chronicle

Two former Ministers in the Kufuor led administration have challenged President John Evans Atta Mills to come out and explain to Ghanaians how much his decision to downsize the Ministries would save the country some money.

The former Ministers contended that even though President Mills' decision was a laudable one, it would be prudent for him to tell Ghanaians the exact amount it would save for the country.

In separate interviews with the former Ministers of Aviation; and Ports and Harbours, Mr. Joe Baidoe-Ansah and Professor Christopher Ameyaw Akumfi, both wondered if the pruning down of he Ministries was going to save the country any money.

“The President is the only one who has powers to create Ministries and to abolish Ministries. So if former President Kufuor, in his own wisdom found it necessary to create some Ministries, and a new President has come and he thinks that the job can be done by shutting down and realigning some of the Ministries, I think we should go by it.

But President Mills should be in a position to tell Ghanaians how much money the trimming down the Ministries would save the country”, Professor Ameyaw Akumfi said “I don't know why the President did that. He should have a reason, but sometimes this is how it is at the Civil Service It is being decided on the President's own agenda of either to cut down the size of Ministries or to merge some of them. If it was the issue of cutting down expenditure, then they have failed”, noted Mr. Baidoe-Ansah.

The former NPP Ministers believed that the creation of the Aviation and Ports and Harbours Ministries was former President Kufuor's agenda to re-focus his attention in rehabilitating those sectors to make the country the gateway to Africa.

Mr. Baidoe-Ansah averred that the Aviation Ministry has for a long time operated as a different sector, with the able assistance of heads being appointed by the government of the day for its management.

According to him, the Aviation Ministry, upon its creation by the previous Kufuor administration maintained its crop of staff without employing new hands, likewise the Ministry's operations without a Deputy Minister.

He therefore wondered if realigning it to the Transportation Ministry would mean that a Deputy Minister would be appointed to run its affairs.

“Everybody at the Aviation Ministry has been at post for long, and nobody was employed as a result of the creation of the new Ministry. The idea was to put somebody in charge to have oversight responsibility over that sector. But let's see the Transportation Ministry would have Deputy Ministers to oversee those sectors?” he queried.

Mr. Baidoe Ansah believed that the President's directive was just to satisfy his political campaign gimmick, and therefore, debunked the notion that the aviation Ministry, including that of the Ports and Harbours, were a burden on the economy.

Both Ministers believed that once the Ministry of Transportation gets Deputies to handle specific jobs, the country would be on track to achieve its dream of becoming the gateway to Africa, since the workload on the sector Minister would be minimized.

It would be recalled that on January 23rd, 2009, President John Evans Atta Mills took a bold step towards fulfilling his campaign promise of reducing the size of government to a reasonable number. In pursuant to this, he reduced the number of government Ministries in the Civil Service from a previous 27 to 23, and realigned others.

As a result of this, the Ministries of Presidential, Parliamentary Affairs, Public Sector Reforms and that of National Security were abolished.

The Ministries of Aviation, Ports, Harbours and Railways -including that of Fisheries were merged with the Transportation Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry respectively.

The rest of the Ministries, however, remained intact.