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02.03.2005 General News

Appointment Committee begins vetting nominees

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Accra, March 2, GNA - Mr Kwadwo Mpiani, the Minister of Presidential Affairs-Designate, on Wednesday said he did not see anything wrong with the number of Ministers and Deputy Ministers being appointed to serve in government. The Nominee, who was questioned on the large size of government when he appeared before the Appointment Committee said: "The number is right".

On the functions and necessity for the creation of a Minister for Presidential Affairs, Mr Mpiani said the creation of that office would bring transparency closer and give Members of Parliament the opportunity to the question the Minister on matters pertaining to the Presidency. He said the role of the Minister of Presidential Affairs was not only to act as an administrator at the Presidency but also to serve as a link between the all the Ministers and the President.

On the number of Presidential Staffers, Advisors, Spokespersons and Special Assistants in government, the Nominee said there were only three Presidential Staffers, four to five Spokespersons and he was not aware of any Special Advisors with the exception of one, who was in charge of reproductive health. In answer to a question from Mr E.T. Mensah, a Committee Member, as to what relationship Ghana should pursue with the Bretton Wood Institutions, Mr Mpiani said: "We can't run away from them." He said even the United Kingdom at one time had to go to them for help, adding that these institutions were just like Banks whose conditions had to be taken or not taken depending on whether one could survive with or without them.

In answer to another question, Mr Mpiani denied ever hearing of Former Ministers in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Administration stealing vehicles and running away with them across the borders when the New Patriotic Party (NPP) took over in 2001. When Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, Nominee for the Ministry of Regional Co-operation and New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) took his turn, he said the NEPAD Initiative was still relevant because of the many benefits it had for the Continent. He said there had been some positive results in infrastructure development and good governance, citing the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), which Ghana had acceded too. He said the reconstruction of the Accra - Aflao Road was being funded under the NEPAD initiative.

On the difficulties in introducing the ECO currency in the West Africa Sub-Region by July this year, the Nominee said Ghana had met three of the convergence criteria except the single digit inflation criterion. He said other countries in the region were facing similar challenges; adding that meeting targets set by economic indicators were always difficult to achieve. On barriers to trade in the Sub-Region, Dr Apraku said barriers could be instantly removed if heads of states were willing to do so. He said commitment to the realisation of goals set by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was key in moving regional trade forward. He said Ghana was working with Burkina Faso to see to the reduction of the number of barriers between the two countries. On his views on imposition of high taxes, the nominee said Africa countries were noted for the high tax burden imposed on their citizens. He said there was the need to expand the tax net to ensure that many people paid their taxes instead of the few who were being burdened to do so. On ambitions to become the President of the country in the future, Dr Konadu said he was concentrating on becoming the best Minister.

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