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11.03.2009 Politics

At Yesterday's Vetting

By Samuel Nuamah &Kodjo Donkor -
At Yesterday's Vetting

A Deputy Minister designate for Energy, Dr Kwabena Donkor has called for national consensus to determine the ex-refinery pricing formula at the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR)

Expressing his views at his vetting  by the Appointments Committee yesterday,  on how to deal with the TOR debt canker   Dr Donkor said the TOR debt arises from under recovery and operational inefficiency.

He said by the policy of deregulation, TOR was to be bench marked with  refineries from outside for setting the ex-refinery price.

However, the said, government had found it necessary to hold  prices in times when prices soar.

Mr Donkor stated also that TOR had a capacity limitation saying it suffered from  economies of scale and there will be therefore the need to pursue an expansion for TOR to enjoy economies of scale.

He said if his nomination is approved, he will liaise with the Ministry of Finance and Parliament to  address the issue.

On fuel racketeering at TOR and other depots, the nominee who was Chief Executive of the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company (BOST) said  he will put a scheme in place to monitor and minimize such occurrences including fuel adulteration.

He stated that he will assist the Ministry to  source for  funds to extend power to rural areas under the rural electrification project which he noted has moved from a national coverage  of 15 per cent to 50 per cent, saying that extending power to rural areas was  critical if the country was to  industrialise.

Explaining to the committee  what work at the BOST entails, he said BOST was to provide an alternative by dispensing fuel across the country  should TOR fail to supply fuel.

He  was of the opinion that BOST should now return to its core business of being a keeper of the national strategic stock.

He  disclosed that the BOST had contracted a  $123 million Exim bank facility to improve  on its tank farms infrastructure.

He said  the country should be able to keep a minimum of six week strategic stock.

He said the country as at now does not have that capacity.

Concerning price change in petroleum, the nominee said that if the reduction arises out of keeping to a promise then it is necessary.

When he took his turn, Emmanuel Buah another deputy Minister designate for Energy also  told the  committee that the TOR debt issue was one of inefficiency and said if given the nod, he will work closely with  the Minister to address the issue.

In response to another question, he said oil revenue ought to be managed well to ensure maximum benefit to the country.

He stressed the need to pay special attention to areas where the oil is located in such a way that the indigenes also benefit from the resource.

On her  part, Mrs Elizabeth Amoah-Tetteh, Deputy Minister designate for Education strongly advocated the handing over of mission schools to the missions to manage.

She said when in time past  the missions were in charge of the schools there was respect and moral uprightness as far as children were concerned.

On the issue of granting of study leave, the nominee was of the opinion that it should be done according to the needs of the teaching profession.

She also recommended the distance learning programme as it will ensure that teachers stay in the classroom while they pursue further studies.

Dr. Joseph Samuel Annan another deputy Minister designate of Education was also vetted by the committee.

Earlier on  Monday, one of the Deputy Ministers-designate for Finance, Fiifi Kwetey, was “grilled” for four hours, making him arguably the first ever ministerial nominee to be vetted for that long.

The marathon questioning bordered on issues relating to the nominee's nationality, certain publications in the 'Crystal Clear Lens' newspaper which he edited,  and some pronouncements he made as Propaganda Secretary of the NDC.

Mr Kwetey told the committee that he is not a Togolese as is being portrayed in a section of the media, saying he hails from Nogokpo in the Volta Region and was born at Hohoe in the same region.

He, however attended the Ecole Primaire Christ Roi from 1972 to 1978 and College Protestant from 1979 to 1983 both in Lome, Togo

Asked by a member of the committee to provide evidence to a publication he made in the Crystal Clear Lens that the NPP had sold off the entire gold reserves of the country, Mr Kwetey said the report was not generated by his paper but was culled from the Ghana Web.

The nominee denied that the story was categorical saying that was why a question mark was put at the end of the headline.  He explained that the paper published the story as a way of generating discussion  for the truth to be ascertained and he later retracted it orally when it turned out that the story was not true.

Questioned on another publication to the effect that the NDC office at Kyebi was burned down and one Abu Mohammed crippled by supporters of Nana Akufo-Addo, NPP flagbearer, Mr Kwetey said it was based on information provided him by NDC members at Kyebi.

When Samuel Ataa Akyea, a member of the Committee and MP for Abuakwa South pointed out to the nominee that there was no truth in what was propagated, Mr Kwetey replied “I did a research and my research as far as the party in Kyebi is concerned was the truth.”