…says economy loses greatly while ministers await vetting
The Transition Act, Act 845, needs to be amended to allow for the appointment of five key substantive ministers within the first 21 days after the constitution of a new parliament, Executive Director of Institute for Energy Policies and Research (INTEPR), Kwadwo Poku, has advocated.
He said the economy and country at large are dependent on the Finance, Education and Health Ministries, as well as Energy and Agriculture, and that they lose substantially whenever there are delays in transition – hence the need to amend the law, particularly section 13 (5) of the Act to replace it with the early appointment of these five ministers.
“INSTEPR strongly believes that the Transition Act 845, 2012, should be amended to remove section 13 (5) to replace it with the appointment of at least five substantive ministers for Finance, Health, Energy, Education and Agriculture. Parliament will make the necessary provisions to vet and approve these ministers-designate within the first 21 days of the new parliament,” he said in a statement to the B&FT.
Doing so, he argues, will allow any new government to have leadership in key areas of the economy.
Although President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has nominated his ministers for his second and final term in office, the nominees are now being vetted by Parliament. The vetting process, per parliament’s timetable, began on Wednesday, February 10 but could take several weeks to complete.
“Even when the president appoints a caretaker as stipulated in the Transition Act 845, 2012, section 13 (5), that individual cannot make policy decisions. The authorities, corporations and companies under the sector face the same problem of inaction and no policy direction, since their boards were dissolved as per the Chief of Staff’s letter dated January 12, 2021,” he added.
Citing instances where lack of leadership has cost the country dearly, he said in the past week Ghana missed a deadline to take over operation and maintenance of the AMERI Plant, which he said comes at an extra cost to the state.
More worryingly, he said, the problem is not only felt in the energy sector but across the entire government. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the president does not have a Cabinet and a health minister to steer the country through these difficult times.
“There are union agitations at Tema Oil Refinery since beginning of the year. The refinery needs special attention by government to determine its long-term viability. In recent weeks, most parts of the country have experienced low voltage and power outages. There are teething problems at Ghana Grid Company Limited and Electricity Company of Ghana which need immediate attention. We have just mentioned a few problems occurring in the energy sector during the month of January, and the Institute believes that the lack of leadership can compound these problems to escalate,” the statement added.
“As it stands, we will have nothing to show in the first quarter of 2021. The private sector looks to government for stability, and the uncertainty created by the current situation does not benefit Ghana. Our industry barometer for first quarter will now be published in the second quarter, June 2021,” he concluded.