Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has called on government to ‘cancel vanity projects’ and scrap the payment of ex-gratia to help salvage the country’s ailing economy.

According to him, there is a need for government to also reduce the number of ministers and appointees at the Presidency.

These measures, in his view, have become necessary due to the current agitations on the labour front and the country’s ongoing engagements with the IMF for a bailout.

“Cancel vanity projects such as the proposed new €116 million new Accra International Conference Centre project, 5 STEM universities, Boankra Green Technology City, Marine Drive Project, Stadia for Abuakwa and Sunyani, Agenda 111, new embassies in Trinidad and Tobago and Mexico.

“Drastically reduce the number of Ministers, abolish Deputy CEO positions, dismiss the CEO for the ridiculous non-existent Keta Port and slash the outrageous 337 political appointees at the Office of the President by more than half,” Mr Ablakwa wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

He believes it will also be crucial to look at “an immediate review of Ghana’s end-of-service benefits regime and scrap all ex-gratia payments for political and non-political beneficiaries.”

In his post, the MP also proposed other measures which he believes will help put the country’s economy on a better footing.

In a related development, the Majority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has also suggested a reduction in the number of ministers of state.

According to him, fewer ministers than currently exist will lower the pressure on the public purse.

Speaking at a public lecture at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) on Tuesday, he explained that based on the 1992 Constitution, the President is mandated to appoint up to only nineteen cabinet ministers.

These cabinet ministers are subsequently required to assist the President in the formulation of policies and principles to govern the country.

Under this constitutional arrangement, ministers who are not cabinet ministers do not get the opportunity to sit at the table of decision-making.

The Majority Leader, therefore, posited that there is no need to appoint many ministers when only nineteen cabinet ministers are actually needed to decide on government policies.

“The Constitution provides in Article 76(1), that there shall be a Cabinet which shall consist of the President, the Vice President and not more than nineteen ministers of state.

Given the role of cabinet ministers, that is for running the state efficiently and assisting the President in the determination of policy of his government, it is my contention that apart from regional ministers, the number of central government ministers may not have to exceed 19 as contained in the Constitution.

And that means ministries shall also not have to exceed 19.

All ministers to be relevant and to be able to assist in the evolution and determination of policies in their sectors must be cabinet ministers.

The excess numbers must be cut off and that will significantly reduce public expenditure. For the avoidance of doubt, the Constitution must provide for that”, he explained.

Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu also added that there is the need for the state to consider competent individuals to man various ministerial positions. This he said, will help in the development of the country at large.

The call by the Majority Leader comes at a time, when concerns are already rife about the need for government to reduce the number of ministers.

Currently, Ghana has about 123 ministers of state. This has generated widespread criticisms with calls for government to reduce the number.

However in a response to a similar suggestion, President Akufo-Addo explained that, there are a lot of issues to address, hence the need for more hands.

But some civil society organisations have disagreed with the President’s explanation; arguing that the increase in ministers drains the state coffers.

Meanwhile, Ghana is currently engaging the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help balance its books.

Regarding this development, JoyNews has learnt that the earliest the International Monetary Fund can take a decision on whether to give Ghana a deal will be in the first quarter of 2023.