Pressure on Akufo-Addo to reduce size of gov’t

The demand by some New Patriotic Party (NPP) Members of Parliament (MPs) that Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta be removed from office has triggered fresh pressure on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to also reduce the size of government.

Some analysts who spoke to The Chronicle said merely replacing Ofori-Atta and Charles Adu Boahen would not solve the country’s economic problems, because the crisis was being caused by external factors. This time the pressure on the president to downsize the government is at an all-time high due to the current economic crisis.

In view of this, even a section of NPP members think downsizing the government at this time could tame the rising anger among the public over the biting rising cost of living.

Unconfirmed reports say Ofori Atta could choose to exit the government to satisfy the MPs who made the demand to reduce tension and possible rift in the party. It is not clear whether this is being expressed only as a possibility or a probability.

In the same light, it is highly expected of the president to also heed calls to downsize government to reflect current economic difficulties.

Sources have confided in The Chronicle that in the event that the president chooses to further downsize government, he is likely to reduce drastically the number of Deputy Ministers, many of whom are MPs and actually do not make much contribution to policy-making or execution.

The view is that it is time for the President to sacrifice his loyalty to his appointees for the common good of the country.

Several analysts have made the point that downsizing government will save the country some resources because every cedi counts. They argue that the President should reduce the size of government as a way of signalling to Ghanaians that he is indeed serious when he says the country is in crisis. Significantly reducing the size of government is mooted as part of the internal austerity measures needed in the midst of current economic crisis.

Following persistent complaints about the big size of government in the first term, President Nana Akufo-Addo abolished seven ministries in his second term reducing the number of ministers from 126 to 80 in his second term. These are the Ministries of Aviation, Business Development, Inner City and Zongo Development, Monitoring and Evaluation, Planning, Regional Re-organisation and Development, and Special Development Initiatives.

According to the president, the seven ministries were abolished because virtually all these special-purpose Ministries have achieved the purposes for which they were established. President Nana Akufo-Addo stated that per the huge problems facing the country at the time, he needed more capable hands to fix them and thus did not see his government’s size in the first term as being that big.

Other ministries can be merged or scrapped

It has been argued that some other ministries can be merged or scrapped completely. For example, the Ministry of Railways Development can become a department under the Transport Ministry. In the same vein, Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture can become a department under Ministry of food and Agriculture. Some people propose that Ministries of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Sanitation and Water Resources be scrapped entirely.

Some countries using less than 40 Ministers

Japan used to run the world’s third largest economy with 17 ministers. UK has less than 30 Ministers and the US has less than 40 ministers. Similarly, African peers like South Africa and Senegal have less than 40 ministers.

The number of ministers appointed by presidents in the fourth republic is; President Jerry Rawlings-82 Ministers, John Agyekum Kufour-88 ministers, President John Evans Atta Mills-75 Ministers, President John Mahama-over 90 Ministers, President Akufo-Addo-120 ministers in the first term and that has been reduced to 80.

Per the information making the rounds, the president may not scrap nor merge any of the ministries.

Rather, President Nana Akufo-Addo is likely to conduct the downsizing by sending some Deputy Ministers home especially in ministries with more than one Deputy Minister.

The NPP MPs want Mr Ofori-Atta and Charles Adu Boahen, a Minister of State at the Finance Ministry dismissed but after a meeting with President Nana Akufo-Addo, it was agreed that the dismissal is put on hold till the two complete some important national assignments.

They are to continue to superintend over negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and securing a deal.  They will also complete the preparation of the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy for 2023 which Ofori-Atta will present to parliament next month. The Finance Minister will also supervise the passage of the Appropriations Bill.


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