Constitutionalism demands a democratic process with laydown principles. Amongst which is the elected president to constitute his government. One subject that continues to take center stage in the size of government with an emphasis on the size of ministerial portfolios to be created.
It does appear, Ghana’s 1992 constitutions have created a big void in terms of the number of ministerial positions to be created. This might have contributed to the elected president having the exclusive power and rights to determine the number of ministerial portfolios, number of ministers and deputies to have.
The interesting dynamics have been the politics of government size. The opposition often use the opportunity to chide government on why a lot of ministerial portfolios have been created. The popular phrase ‘family and friends’ are often the tag. From the critique of Late Rawlings Government size to Former President Kuffour’s government; the backlashed of Late Prof Mills and Former President John Mahama government regarding government size was a major message of commentators and political opponents.
What appears as our last hope to dealing with a large government size debate was the promise of President Akuffo Addo to run a slim government. This was a key message to the countdown of the 2016 election. Unfortunately, the president did not demonstrate principle and commitment and went ahead to create an elephant size government.
Reports indicate that President Nana Addo government was not only the largest in the history of Ghana, equally the largest government size in the world.
From the world of Civil Society Organisation to discerning Ghanaians and academicians, they question the rationale for President Nana Addo to form such a large government size. A lot of critiques were particular with certain ministerial portfolios that appear as duplications or rubber stamps.
We raised doubt on the Ministries of Aviation, Business Development, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Inner City and Zongo Development, Regional Reorganization, Special Development Initiatives, and Procurement Ministry.
The responsibilities and functions of the ministries created confirm our fear. For instance, the government’s flagship programme, One District; One Ambulance policy was under the supervision of the Ministry of special development initiatives.
This was not spectacular governance re- structuring because the Ministry of Health has been procuring ambulances and well structured than the Special Development initiative ministry.
Again, the ministry of Monitoring and Evaluation and Ministry of Procurement were equally not seen doing much because their responsibilities are embedded in already Ministries and government agencies and so they cannot be upsurging those functions.
The Ministry of Monitoring and Evaluation in itself was incompetent and so how can such an established evaluate other ministries that were heading a well-resourced ministry?
On a fair assessment, the only ministry that one can say was an addition to President Nana Addo’s first term administration was the Ministry of Regional Reorganisation headed by Hon. Dan Botwie. Given the fact that the government has successfully created six new regions that was one of his major campaign promises. Even that, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development could have handled such a task.
The debate advanced by a political loyalist to defending the government size has always been to ensure effectiveness and efficiency in conducting government business, having the opportunity to engage a lot of people to work in the government. These views are unfounded. Rather, it put a strain on already bloated government expenditure and contributing to our debt stress. We spend a lot of monies to pay salaries and emolument for these low-performing ministers and their working staff.
The spot now on the President Akuffo Addo for resizing his government from 124 Ministers and Deputies to 87 is an indication that he has failed to be a listening president given a lot of healthy critique from the CSOs, this could have been adverted. The collapse of all the newly created ministries in his first time and scrapping of the deputy regional ministerial portfolios is a significant move. However, resizing the ministries to 87 is still on the high side for a small country like Ghana.
The creation of the Ministry of Public Enterprises is not going to be prudent. We have a ministry of trade and industries so why still duplicate or move a fraction of responsibilities to set up a piece of the whole machinery to be in charge? It is unnecessary and must be rejected.
Again, the government could scrap the Ministry of Fisheries and established an agency under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. I have always wondered the reason for the Ministry of employment. Their relevance to me has not been appreciated. Unemployment continues to soar, labour agitations have been on the rise, welfare and wages irregularities and discrepancies are a big issue. So why still have a ghost ministry?
It must be noted that the elected president appears to have a lot of friends and cronies to satisfy and so they take advantage of our constitutional gaps to maneuver their way through. It is high time Ghana as a country to have an enactment that will put a ceiling on the number of ministers and deputy ministers, we should be having a country. This will prevent the unnecessary creation of ministerial portfolios just to get party men and women jobs.
In a nutshell, President Nana Akuffo Addo still has some work to do and must not think that 87 Ministerial Portfolio is a small size government. A country like Ghana does not need more than 50 ministries. We could see the best examples in the advanced world. Quality leadership and good governance are not dependant on the number of Ministers to have, rather clear vision, determined professional with the spirit of nation-building. Reducing government and recycling some failed appointees and maintaining some who have integrity deficiencies with not serve a positive course for Ghana.