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Dec 27, 2016 | Think Pad for Africa

Welcome Speech by Franklin Cudjoe at IMANI’s 6th Inspirational Public Sector Leader Awards, December 22 2016. Why IMANI Praises Excellence in the Public Sector

By Franklin Cudjoe

Good evening distinguished Ghanaian compatriots of all levels in society, Ministers of State, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, our generous guest speaker Ambassador Tove Degnbol of Denmark, Ambassador Robert Jackson of the United States, Australia High Commissioner Andrew Barnes, UN AIDS Country Coordinator Girmay Haile, Chief Directors of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, USAID Mission Director Andrew Karas, Political Counsellors Tom Lyons, Kabelo Matlaletsa, Patricia Sebidi of the US Embassy and South African High Commission respectively, Representatives of the Japanese, Canadian and Cuban missions and business leaders from the banking and oil industry. IMANI is grateful for your presence this evening. Let me thank you all for the varied and important roles you played in securing another democratic feat with the outcome of Ghana’s recent elections.

And let me use this moment to officially congratulate President Elect- Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the New Patriotic Party for a handsome win and deserving commiserations to soon to become his opposite number, President John Mahama and the National Democratic Congress.

Six years ago, Imani embarked on an ambitious project to contribute to the public discourse on creating an effective and efficient public sector that will compliment the private sector so that it can live up to its billing as the engine of growth. The main reason really was that the public sector had comfortably become this amorphous creature gobbling up critical resources that otherwise would have aided in spawning some needed infrastructure all around. Yet, the active participation of the finance ministry in the lamentation of how the public financial management system impedes progress didn’t seem to suggest there were aspirations to clean the clog of wasteful wages and compensation in the public sector. Frankly a critical look at this year's almost Ghc 14bn allocation to wages and salaries betrays a minimal sense of mathematical calculation that is required to understand that a significant chunk of this amount ended up as sitting and galloping allowances for lower middle to the top hierarchy of the civil service for many a meeting that added little to productivity and instead reinforced the dragnet of leviathan bureaucracy. Consolidating salaries must be the one critical assignment of the incoming government.

But this year's theme of “The Virtues of a lean government in the face of fiscal challenges "can help us chart a new path for the incoming government. Having vigorously campaigned on the need for every government to be fiscally prudent, we can start with appointments into public office. A friend of mine, Jason Tutu reminded me yesterday that our new President, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo has to make over 2500 appointments when sworn into office. Ministers, Deputies, Chief Directors, DCEs & MCEs, Heads of Departments and Agencies, Board Members of all state institutions and all the kominini he said.... All one man has the power to appoint. Our Presidency is a Monarchy, he said. These are direct appointments by the president alone he continued. Raises very serious questions about our governance setup, another friend said. And Jason Tutu concluded "That is the starting point of corruption". While I have argued that these executive powers themselves can be used for good, we all know too well that in governance good intentions are not enough. Preferably a consolidation of some ministries will be useful. I will suggest for instance that the ministries of lands be merged with Agriculture and forestry so as to harmonize and optimise our full agriculture potential. A closer look will reveal a lot more mergers.

Also, seeing as the winning manifesto makes audacious promises we, can even be more ambitious and properly cost all the leading lights in the wining manifesto and divide the critical needs into parts that must be sold not just to local business people but to our diplomatic friends representing their countries so they pick and choose that which their business men and women will partner Ghana to achieve. Take Mexico for instance, a country that is the 8th most valuable tourist industry in the world can effectively deploy her expertise if asked properly to change the face of the table top tourism we do in Ghana. South Africa can equally teach us enormous lessons here too. And of course, Denmark can teach us how we can harness varied sources of energy by being disciplined. If this is done, the coming presidency of Nana Akufo Addo would have given meaning to its mantra of taxing citizens less to enhance productivity.

Ladies and gentlemen, in the past six years, notwithstanding the depressing example I gave above on contradictions in salary computations, we at IMANI have had to search for excellence and offer rare praise in the public sector. Many have done well. At least 30 Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government in the past six years have made it unto our inspirational public sector leader list. Some have had repeated success, making it unto the list twice in different years. Depressingly and with great hesitation, we do also have a less inspirational list and it is by no means a definition of an institution’s station in life if they made it onto the list, in the same manner it is not automatic that a successful candidate in a previous year will not falter and wither away from the conduct that got it noticed. And let me give you an example:

Two months ago, I received a telephone call from a former female employee of imani charging at me to go back for an award we had given the Registrar General's Department whose citation of exemplary service had been happily displayed in the common room for clients. Her reason was that the registrar general's department had made her 30 years older by changing her birthdate which she submitted in bold printed letters from 1986 to 1956 and given her a new hometown from the original she printed. She was not alone. We have heard of similar falling standards away from the IMANI Crucible. We had sent letters to the Registrar general's department demanding answers.

So, it is my prayer that the award winners of this evening's exercise will not tempt us to ask them to return our awards, because frankly these awards are not for life and we can disown you by reclaiming the awards.

At the risk of taking the wind out of the sail of our guest speaker, I will end my comments here and wish you a pleasant evening and Merry Christmas. Thank you.

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