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11.02.2009 Politics


By Stephen Odoi larbi & Emmanuel Kpeglah - Ghanaian Chronicle

The President's nominee for Minister of Finance, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor cut the picture of a cool steady hand that could be relied on in time of uncertainty, when he appeared before the Appointments Committee yesterday.

At his age, past retirement, with a string of major investments in his portfolio, he was one candidate who was open about his holdings and clearly showed that here was one person whose Christian principles – he worships regularly with Assemblies of God, under Pastor Nkrumah, who relied on his financial engineering capacity to smooth the way for the church to construct a two-storey Church with a credit union.

Of course, there was not a word about it at the vetting, when he was rather asked questions about macro and micro stability by the minority leader to explain away the concepts as had been espoused by the National Democratic Congress.

If ever Hon. Kyei Mensa Bonsu wanted to know what examples he had to show -how he could grow money at the micro level, the Roman Ridge Assemblies of God member is an example, he could have given to illustrate what could be done at the micro level.

The questions that still dominated the proceedings were about the state of the economy in his own opinion.

As he reeled off the answers, it was easy to detect which one of the questions were tricky ones, and which ones were not.

Dr. Duffuor was simply unflappable. In his answers, he was careful about the use of the appropriate words, choosing what he said was careful words; 'Money does not like noise, you know'.

Money, he said, likes to hear good news, because if you make ugly noises you drive investors away, be they Ghanaian investors, Foreign direct investors or any investor, they all do not want a tense environment.

Princess of Cool
She lived up to her public reputation as Princess of Cool with a gift of pure eloquence.

The Minister designate for Trade and Industry, Ms. Hannah Tetteh said the statement that she made in the heady days of the transitional period to the effect that “the economy is broke,” which she used in describing Ghana's economy under President Kuffuor, was a political language which upon advise she would now prefer a more diplomatic tone.

Ms Tetteh, who was the spokesperson for the Transitional Team stated that she had been tutored to rather use “the economy was challenged,” to describe the deficits the economy suffered under the Kufuor led administration.

“The economy is broke is not a business language, it is a political language but the diplomatic expression is the economy is challenged,” she said.

Hon. Hanna Tetteh, who was accused of conflict of interest for working with a company and also serving as a Member of Parliament, cleared her name with documentary evidence. She added that throughout her parliamentary life, she had been dutiful and hard working, and had never shirked in any of her responsibility.

She said when given the nod, she would review the President's Special Initiatives, a relic of the past government, specifically the Ayensu Starch Company to determine its viability and to restructure it, if it became necessary. She said, she would strictly enforce the decision that all textiles coming into the country should pass through Takoradi Harbour and also to strengthen the cotton industry in the Northern part of the country, as a way of reviving the textile industry in Ghana.

She added that the intellectual property source of the local people would be protected to prevent foreign countries that use designs developed by the local people, use them without permission, develop them into print and sell them back to the people of Ghana.

She said government would make funds available for small scale businesses such as agro-processing firms and other private business. She promised to create an acceptable environment for trade in the West African Sub-region, citing Nigeria as having a very large market that Ghana could access.

For once, Hon. Atta Akyea, Member for Akim Abuakwa South, who is well noted for his deep probing questions on the Appointments Committee, seemed to have been charmed by his former classmate in Law School, and rather chose to let her go with an advise -“You are a very diligent person, I believe with service and humility, standing ovation shall greet you wherever you go.”

Storming norman
Holding the committee spell bound with his profile which included commanding three formations in 1992, Lt. Gen Joseph Henry Mensah bore an on uncanny resemblance Gulf war hero storming Norman (Gen. Schwarzkoff) he demonstrated that he was at home with the portfolio he had been assigned.

The Minister designate for Defense, quickly pointed out that he was neither a card bearing member of the NDC, nor was he part of the security chiefs that met with ex-president Rawlings. The man from Takoradi startled with information about the porous nature of the Naval hardware and that of the Airforce. “ How could the Navy be expected to effectively police 500 nautical miles of coast line with vessels whose average age was 45years”, he answered to a probing question from Hon. Atta Kyea. On recruitments, he said the procedure for regional balance in the recruitment of personnel into the Ghana Armed Forces was limited to the junior ranks. But for the officers, recruitment depends on competence.

He explained that the claim of ethnic balance did not apply, but every region is normally given equal percentage of the 1200 vacancies that are made available yearly.

He said the cooperation between the Police service and the Armed Forces would be strengthened, promising that he would intensify Police and Military collaboration to curb the armed robbery menace in the country.

He said the recent recruitment of persons into the army was suspended as a result of the discovery that some of the prospective candidates on the recruitment list could not read and write. Others also had false certificates whilst the remaining did not go through medical examinations before they were slated for training.

Lt. Gen. Smith said when those irregularities were rectified, the recruitment process would continue.

He said the military could defend the country better when it is well equipped, and can undertake construction and other engineering services, including leadership and management training for the people of Ghana.

Lt. General Smith was cautioned by the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Doe Adjaho not to slip into areas that would compromise National Security.

Whizz kid Haruna
When Mr. Haruna Iddrisu appeared before the Appointments Committee, members wondered why his MPhil degree had to be revoked by the University of Ghana in 2006, and therefore, demanded answers to that. In a quick response, Mr. Iddrisu noted that the faults found in his thesis were just inadvertent human omissions which the authorities could have glossed over.

He said he had no intention of resorting to any shortcut in the pursuit of achieving higher educational qualification. “I will not now or ever, in the pursuit of any life objective, resort to dishonesty or shortcut,” he said.

According to him, he had initially wanted to challenge the matter at the law court, but felt the need to let go since it was part of the human challenges in life.

“Indeed, my initial inclination was to challenge the matter in court”, he noted. He said ever since the issue became public, he has had sleepless nights, since a lot of young men look up to him for inspiration.

He was, however, advised by the members of the Appointments Committee to do the necessary corrections on his thesis, and submit it for reinstatement since the committee set up by the University to probe the matter recommended so.

Outlining his vision for the new Ministerial portfolio, he said if given the position, he would make sure that all the players in the Telecom industry complied with the directives and rules of the land, to improve on the network so as to enable Ghanaians enjoy good telecommunication services in the country.

He said government was committed to ensuring consumer protection and would, therefore, do everything within his might to ensure that Ghanaians got value for their money.

Mr. Iddrisu further noted that he would fight cyber crime, since it was gradually creeping into our society, but would encourage Information Communication Technology (ICT) education to the highest level.

He also outlined his government's preparedness to extend Telecom services to the rural communities of the country, in order to reduce cost in doing business.

Buttressing his argument on why the government had to review the sale of seventy percent shares in Ghana Telecom to Vodafone Plc, Mr. Iddrisu said the review of the agreement would not be synonymous to revocation, and noted that the country would need an understanding with Vodafone, in extending the national fibre optic backbone to the northern parts of the country to enable the country communicate well with those in the sub-region.

According to him, the country needed to protect local internet service providers since they were also sources of revenue to the government.

“We need to protect our own local internet Service Providers. Vodafone is operating as a wholesaler and a retailer at the same time.

They sell broadband by themselves and yet many of these local companies are a source of revenue to the government”, he noted.

He again noted that the position of Ghana Telecom College was not spelt out clearly under the agreement, since there was no conclusion for its status.