Deputy Minister of Information Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa has accused the Parliamentary Appointments Committee (PAC) of unfair treatment to Vice President Designate Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur in their decision to conduct his vetting in public.

“The Speaker of Parliament, who is the number three person line to the presidency was never vetted – the Chief Justice who is fourth in line was vetted in camera and the National Security Minister, Mr. Francis Poku was also vetted in camera and yet PAC has decided to vet the number two person in public and they want us to think they are being fair,” he said on Metro TV Good Morning Ghana Show on Friday.

The Parliamentary Appointments Committee announced on Wednesday it will conduct the vetting of the Vice President Designate in public on Monday, August 6, 2012, and that has since generated some public debate with members of both sides of the political divide either supporting or kicking against it.

Mr. Okudjeto-Ablakwa said the decision of PAC to vet Mr. Amissah-Arthur in public smacks of double standards, which is not good for the reputation of Parliament as an institution.

He said the PAC’s decision indicates they intend to taint the reputation of Mr. Amissah-Arthur by asking him questions about payment of judgement debts to Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome and others in the full glare of the public.

“It is obvious they have seen that Mr. Amissah-Arthur is a possible running mate to President John Mahama in the December elections so they want to use this process to throw political blows at him,” he said.

He said he believes when Parliament engage in such double standards without proper justification that is problematic, because “how can you explain how a National Security Minister was vetted in camera but a Vice President Designate is to be vetted in public.”

Mr. Okudjeto-Ablakwa said there was some merit in the PAC previously vetting persons of certain sensitive positions in camera, so the PAC should have been consistent with that.

He said the decision to conduct the vetting in public also gives merit to questions being raised within the NDC of the performance of the Majority in Parliament, adding that in the coming days, the Majority Leader should explain to the people of Ghana how come they sometimes allow the NPP and the Minority to have their way.

Mr. Okudjeto-Ablakwa however noted that instead of focusing on questions about judgement debt and the depleted cedi, he would expect the PAC to find out how Mr. Amissah-Arthur and his team at the central bank were able to increase Ghana’s reserves to a record high, how they were able to stabilize the cedi and interest rate until the election year, and how he, as a board member of COCOBOD, was able to achieve one million metric tons of Cocoa.

But Communication Manager of the NPP, Nana Akomea said Mr. Okudjeto-Ablakwa was being ‘horribly unfair’ to the PAC in accusing them of double standards because the Chair of the PAC, Mr. Edward Doe Adjaho is with the NDC and majority of the PAC members are from the NDC.

He noted that since it came public that Mr. Amissah-Arthur would be vetted in public, leading members of the NPP, like Mr. Yaw Osafo Maafo and some other top National Executive of the NPP have kicked against that decision, so it is not true that the NPP has an agenda to run Mr. Amissah-Arthur down.

Nana Akomea however noted that, even if the purpose of the decision is to grill Mr. Amissah-Arthur in the open that is not wrong because transparency is necessary to prevent situations like the Woyome scandal.

“The Woyome question might come up with a purpose to find out what gate-keeping measures he had at the central bank to deal with such issues and if there are none, what are his suggestions for the future – but eventually Mr. Amissah-Arthur will be approved unless something extraordinary happens,” he said.

Nana Akomea also pointed out that the criticsm of Mr. Amissah-Arthur’s nomination by leading members of the NDC was a clear indication there was not enough internal consultation before his appoinment, and the NDC needs to be worried about that rather than accusing Parliamnent of double standards.

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