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07.02.2006 General News

Kufuor justifies the need for the Council of State


Cape Coast, Feb. 7, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor has defended the wisdom in the establishment of the Council of State, saying, through it the Government had availed itself of second opinion. Since the selection of the members were not done on the basis of politics, they stood in better position to bring to bear an objective observation of the governance of the Country, he said in response to a question on the rationale for the existence of the Council at the Fifth People's Assembly held in Cape Coast on Tuesday.

The questioner was wondering whether it was not superfluous for the President to have a Cabinet helping him to take decisions and at the same time be advised by a Council.

President Kufuor said the difference between the two laid in their composition. The Cabinet is formed by the political party in power while Members of the Council was made up of people such as Chiefs, a Former Chief of Defence Staff, a Former Inspector General of Police and a Clergy among others.

He said in the absence of the second chamber or senate in the country to help provide "second opinion" as it obtains in some other countries there was justification for the existence of the Council. Questions by the people, who stood in queues ranged from the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), non-payment of severance awards to retrenched staff of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), delayed payment of compensation to former employees of the SABAT Motors, alleged Police brutality, micro-credit, shoddy work by contractors and insensitivity of some District Chief Executives to development to the resettlement of displaced hawkers and traders in Accra.

Midway through the session, the programme had to be halted as a result of a fire outbreak at the Hall of the Centre of the National Culture.

The main electricity meter caught fire and personnel of the Ghana National Fire Service responded swiftly to bring it under control but power could not be restored for the programme to continue. Vice President Aliu Mahama; Chairman and Members of the Council of State; Ministers of State; Traditional Rulers; Members of the Diplomatic Corps and a seven-member delegation of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Executive Board currently on Visit to the country attended the Assembly.

President Kufuor, earlier said the interaction with the people was not a mere talk-shop.

Government has studied issues raised in previous People's Assemblies and where appropriate had taken action on the outcome of such studies. Mr Dan Botwe, the Information Minister, said the Government took the Assembly seriously and that its proceedings were documented for follow-up actions. "It is not for cosmetic purposes." The well-attended Assembly got underway immediately President Kufuor and his Vice Alhaji Mahama arrived at the Hall adorned with the national colours at exactly 0955 hours amidst cheers from the people.