Scrutinizing 998 Presidency Staff Good for Accountability – Oppong Nkrumah
A Deputy Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has welcomed the Centre for Democratic Development’s (CDD-Ghana) critique of the Akufo-Addo administration’s presidency staff size saying it will ultimately highlight the value behind the numbers.
The Presidency has come under intense public criticism as it once against broke another record of having 998 staff serving at the presidency, the highest ever by any government.
The CDD, the latest civil society group to give its take, expressed disappointment over the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government’s decision to “over-staff” the presidency despite concerns raised by the public over the earlier appointment of 110 ministers and deputies.
In a statement, the CDD called on Parliament to thoroughly assess the list presented by the presidency last week with the view of depopulating it by removing persons with vague positions and superfluous roles.
The CDD, among other things, also said Parliament must demand additional information and clarity as to the precise roles and duties of the many administrative personnel listed as well as provide a disclosure of the salaries and emoluments attached to the recorded positions.
Speaking on Eyewitness News, Mr Oppong Nkrumah said this was merely a sign of Ghana’s strengthened democracy.
“…People are now going a step further to say tell us their job description and tell us their salaries. I think it is a deepening of democracy and I don’t see anything wrong with that request for some further and better particulars.”
Aside from this, he remained confident in the fact the discussions on the matter would skew towards an assessment of value when compared to past governments.
“Today you are finding out that there is a big conversation about what the numbers are, what is the total cost to the public purse and what is the value they are delivering… This is a healthy conversation for our democracy, and I am sure that as we interrogate it some more, we would see whose office of government machinery has cost the taxpayer a lot more and whose office of government machinery has delivered more value to the general public.”
Back and forth over Presidency expenditure
The Minority in Parliament had challenged assertions by the Minister of Information, Dr Mustapha Abdul Hamid, that the Mahama government overran its budget allocation to the office of government machinery even when the numbers they presented were less than the 998 submitted by the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Indications are that the previous Mahama administration had 778 staffers by the time it handed over power.
The Information Minister in an attempt to justify the government’s record 998 administrative staff said the previous government spent a lot more of government resources than the current government.
An assessment of Budget allocations for the Office of Government Machinery shows that it more than doubled from GH¢718 million in 2016 to GH¢1,560 million in 2017.
For 2018, Parliament has approved an estimate of GH¢1.9 billion for the Office of Government Machinery.
But Dr Abdul Hamid maintains that in 2016, the Mahama presidency spent about GHc3 billion despite the GH¢718 estimate.
In response to the government, Cassiel Ato Forson, the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee of Parliament, said there was indeed an overrun but not to the degree being claimed.
Also Speaking on Eyewitness News, he said the Presidency in 2018 was committed to spending GHc 1.3 billion but only ended up spending GHc 1.1 billion, per figures from the Controller and Accountant General.
“The reasons why the overrun happened was because of certain expenditure at certain centres; the national security secretariat and, most importantly, the Millennium Development Authority of which we had to make certain payments being Ghana’s commitment, which was not budgeted for. It is not because the office of Chief of Staff or the Office of the President per se overrun their budget,” he explained.