Calls to Amend Presidential Office Act to Cap Staffing of Gov’t

A national dialogue is being proposed to amend the Presidential Office Act, Act 463 (1993) to allow the capping of staff of the various arms of government.
This, the advocates argued, has arguably become necessary because of current developments in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government and the fear that future governments would increase their staff beyond reasonable numbers.
Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Hon. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, made the suggestion on Monday 26th November, 2018 when he addressed a press conference on the huge number of staff at the Office of Government Machinery (OGM).
The matter, he said, must be subjected to national debate because the current situation suggests the need to place a ceiling on the Executive, Judiciary and even Parliament.
He argued that capping has become imperative to ensure the size of government does not balloon in future from the current 111 of the President Akufo-Addo Administration to perhaps 300 or 350 with all sorts of justification.
He said, “We seem to love large bureaucracy and large government but is this sustainable? We also have to discuss the number of Members of Parliament, the number of districts, district assemblies and now new regions and we are creating more every day.”
“The funds that are used in setting up so many administrative offices and structures could be used to develop communities and provide critical social amenities.”
The Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee noted that the Constitution needs to be amended to place a ceiling on the number of ministers and other arms of government because that is the only way forward.
He questioned whether Ghana, a country with a land mass of just 238,500 sq km and a population of just under 30 million needs thousands of people working at the OGM when there are perfect examples elsewhere across the world.
“We know what happen at Number 10 Downing Street and the White House. They are all nowhere near half of what we have here in Ghana and yet look at the sizes of these countries, the population and the might of their economies.”
Hon. Ablakwa observed that claims being put forward the staff are also Ghanaians who are being provided jobs is neither here nor there because no one has said they are foreigners but the question is whether that is the best way of utilitzing the taxpayers of money.
He disclosed that in 2018, government spent GH¢70 million to pay 998 staff working at the OGM and in 2019 will spend GH¢110 million, which is in excess of GH¢30 million to pay 1,614 people but that is if government does not go beyond what is in the budget.
According to him, the GH¢30 million excess could be used to fund the one district one factory (1D1F) policy, which would still provide jobs that pay people well and yet will not put any burden on government resource over the years.
Ghanaians, he said, want and need sustainable jobs s so that every person will have a fair share of the opportunities that the country offers.
He said, “It is not about just packing the Office of Government Machinery because Ghana cannot continue that way.”
Majority leader, the Hon. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, had cause to complain not long ago about the growing numbers of constituencies and Members of Parliament and warned the practice is not sustainable hence the need to halt it immediately.

By Osumanu Al-Hassan/uthmanhass@gmail.com

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