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10.03.2009 Politics

Fiifi Kwetey grilled

By Daily Guide
Fiifi Kwetey grilled

Fiifi Fiavi Frankline Kwetey Deputy Minister-designate for Finance, Fiifi Fiavi Frankline Kwetey was yesterday thoroughly grilled by the Appointments Committee of Parliament for over four hours, the longest period so far for any President Mills nominee.

His vetting was characterized by stormy arguments throughout the period.

The drama over Fifi Kwetey started when the Member of Parliament for Akim Abuakwa South, Hon. Samuel Atta Akyea described the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Propaganda Secretary as a man of lies and unfit to occupy the important office of the Deputy Minister of Finance.

This sparked sharp reaction from the NDC members on the Appointments Committee, saying the Hon. Atta Akyea was only trying to settle personal scores with Fiifi Kwetey.

Countering the comment by the NDC members, Hon. Atta Akyea stated that he had never seen or met Fiifi Kwetey until yesterday, emphasizing that he was only pointing out issues the Deputy Minister-Designate churned out prior to last year's general elections which were obvious untruths.

According to him, 'NDC's Forum for Setting the Records Straight' of which the nominee was a leading member, had stated last year that Nana Akufo-Addo was a violent man and that his thugs beat up one NDC sympathizer, Abu Mohammed in the Akim Abuakwa South, crippling him in the process.

Again, the Forum stated that an NDC office was also burnt down in the constituency by sympathizers of Nana Addo.

Hon. Atta Akyea said all these claims were not true and that the said Abu Mohammed had never been beaten by Nana's sympathizers; neither had he been crippled, stating that the man in question is currently the GPRTU Chairman at Tafo in the constituency.

He therefore demanded to know whether Fiifi Kwetey and his Forum still stand by those allegations and whether he would apologize to Nana Addo and the NPP if the claims were found not to be true.

Responding, Fiifi Kwetey said the Forum made the claims based on thorough investigations by its members at the constituency level and they were found to be true, noting that if on the other hand there was anything to the contrary, he would apologize honourably.

Fiifi Kwetey was at his arrogant and propagandist best at the vetting in contrast to his colleague, Seth Tekper who was calm, humble, and knowledgeable on economic issues, winning the admiration of the Members of the Appointments Committee.

Appearing before the Appointments Committee, Seth Tekper, second Deputy Minister-designate for Finance, cautioned that Ghana must not be complacent in revenue mobilization in the midst of global financial downturns.

Appearing before the Appointments Committee of Parliament yesterday, Mr. Tekper explained that with the anticipated reduction in external inflows, the country must be well positioned to mobilise enough resources for its development projects.

Mr. Tekper who was a deputy Commissioner of Valued Added Tax (VAT) and has been working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the past nine years, accordingly suggested various ways of generating revenue in the country.

Among these is to provide a solid valuation data-base for Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) to ensure proper valuation of goods for the necessary tariffs to be paid.

He said the procedures of CEPS and their revenue mobilization agencies must be integrated and computerized to improve on their revenue collection, adding that no revenue mobilization agency can act effectively without a computerized system.

The Minister-designate added that all the district tax offices must be strengthened to collect taxes directly on the field and at the local level, emphasizing, “We cannot effectively mobile funds if everything is centralized”.

On the apparent imposition of conditionality by the IMF and World Bank on developing countries, including Ghana, Mr. Tekper noted that countries run to these Bretton Woods Institutions when they have problems in balancing their budgets and general challenges facing the economies.

He said the only way to avoid this is to prudently manage the economy so as not to turn to these institutions for assistance.

On how to arrest the depreciation of the cedi, the Minister-designate said the country must work hard to boost its reserves in order to support the currencies. Thereafter, the country, according to him, can source for concessionary loans to support the domestic expenditure, which would reduce the pressure on the cedi.

When he took his turn, the Minister of State-designate, Abdul Rashid Pelpuo lamented over the infraction that characterized the transition period, noting that next time, it should be done in a way not to split the country apart.

He believed lessons learnt during the transitional period would help in a smooth transition in future.

When quizzed on what he would do to empower the youth in addition to the youth policy in place, Hon. Pelpuo mentioned education, skills development for school drop-outs and jobs for the jobless to empower the youth financially.

In his view, though there had been different approaches such as the National Youth Employment Programme, the youth had suffered over the years as a result of lack of comprehensive approach to youth development to address their concerns.

Describing the 2009 budget as human-centered, pro-poor and poverty-friendly, he said the NDC government would tackle poverty, hoping that within the next four years, it would reduce drastically.

He was optimistic that looking at the significant reduction of poverty from 48 percent to 23 percent, it is likely that Ghana would meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) by 2015.

Commenting on to how to address the confrontation and confusion between the youth of NDC and NPP, Hon. Pelpuo quoted the adage, “the devil finds work for the ideal hand”, hence the youth must be gainfully employed to avoid being manipulated to engage in negative acts.

On his part, the Minister of State-designate, Alhaji Seidu Amadu, pledged the current administration's commitment to continuing with the out-gone government's housing policy to increase the housing stock so as to benefit a large number of Ghanaians.

By Awudu Mahama & Sheilla Sackey