Story: Kwadwo Owusu Aduomi
Full speech delivered by Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom in 2016
INCREASING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE FROM THE TOP BY REDUCING THE SIZE AND COST OF GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION UNDER PRESIDENT PAPA KWESI NDUOM
It is possible to reduce the size and cost of the Executive in Ghana. This I will do as the next President of the Republic of Ghana. Reducing the cost and size of administration is not a little matter. It is not one that will be easy – it has never been that way as there are always lobbyists working for representation of one type or the other for their “sons and daughters” in government. But it is a task that must be done.
Since January, 1993 when the NDC led by former President J. J. Rawlings took office to administer the affairs of the country, there have been many debates over the size and cost of government. This has continued under the administrations of President J. A. Kufuor, President John Atta Mills and John D. Mahama. The number of Ministers of State, Deputy Ministers and Special Advisors at the seat of government administration has been considered excessive by many Ghanaians. In the process, the public has been given the impression that sometimes, positions are created just to have jobs for party faithful.
The perception created is that people go into government to “enjoy” or “chop, chop” at the expense of the nation and not to work. As a former minister myself, I know that the realities associated with being a minister in Ghana under difficult economic circumstances does not support that perception most of the time. But, it is important that the next administration takes firm and real steps to trim the size of government and reduce cost at the top to set the tone for an effective restructuring of the public services in the country. This when done will engender confidence in government and promote better service delivery. The information presented in this brief paper will be discussed by a group of advisors in the next few weeks to firm up what I will present to the country as part of my plan for governance in the new administration that will assume the reigns of government in January 2017.
I am presenting this to the public for discussion, contribution and critique with the request that input should be sent to the Nduom for President 2016 Campaign office in Accra for consideration. This is the first manifestation of my promise for a Campaign of Ideas.
In my administration, I propose to have fourteen (14) ministries:
– Public Service
– Foreign Affairs
– Transportation (including road, railways, aviation)
– Human Services (including labour, social welfare, employment and youth affairs)
– Public Works (including water, housing)
– Justice (excluding the Office Attorney-General which is to be made an autonomous public service entity to fight corruption effectively in the system – public and private)
In total my administration will not have more than forty (40) ministers (including deputies).
This will mean making certain public services organizations such as the National Development Planning Commission and the Ghana Statistical Service more effective in providing policy advice and information.
It will require the strengthening of the Civil Service with Permanent Secretaries (now Chief Directors) who will be required to do more to ensure the effective administration of their ministries. A professional class of civil servants will be recruited, trained, equipped with modern technology and given appropriate remuneration. With the creation of a strong Ministry of Public Service, they will also be given aggressive performance requirements to meet.
The Civil Service will be expected to perform as the permanent arm of government that should be able to administer the country with or without the political arm. A comprehensive remuneration package for the Service will do away with the provision of vehicles, houses, telephone, water, electricity and other such facilities for Service personnel. This will make it possible for government to budget and manage the cost of administration better. This will also apply to the entire public services so that those who work for government will receive a consolidated pay that will allow them to purchase their own housing, vehicles, utility services, etc. The Office of the President will be tasked to work with the private sector to find cost effective ways for government employees – education, health, police, military, judicial services, local government, parliamentary service etc. to gain access to credit to acquire their own housing and transportation.
An important part of this policy direction is making local administration responsible for development not only in name but in terms of performance and funding. Decentralisation is an essential element in keeping central government small and cost effective. I have tasked experts at funding local government to present ideas for financing local development for consideration.
Centralised public organizations dealing with education, health, police, fire, prison and such services will also become progressively decentralized. We need to find a different, more effective way of ensuring government oversight in the regions. Thus the position of Regional Minister needs to be re-examined. A review will be performed to determine what role, if any, that regional administrations should play going forward. This will bedone as part of a comprehensive program of de-politicization of local administration. In the same regard, I will propose changes to the Constitution to ensure that all District, Municipal and Metropolitan Chief Executives and Assembly members are elected. Thiswill allow for a comprehensive restructuring of local administration that will put more emphasis and responsibility for leadership, planning and development on district administration to eliminate bottlenecks currently experienced from regional and central administrations.
I will strengthen Parliament and make Parliamentarians strong, confident and important members of society. Therefore I will not compromise the status of Parliament by appointing a Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. I do not believe in mixing the legislature with the executive. Parliamentarians should choose their own leaders and they should owe allegiance to Parliament, not to the President. In the same vein, the process will be started to address the anomaly of having Parliamentarians serve as Ministers of State. In a developing country such as Ghana, we need our public servants to devote their full attention to their work. A Minister of State is a full time, important position. So is being a Member of Parliament. I tried it for two and a half years and found it to be difficult. Ministers find it extremely difficult to contribute fully to debates in Parliament and to attend Parliamentary Committee meetings which incidentally are where the real work of Parliament is performed.
I will work with Parliament to ensure that adequate resources are granted so that Parliamentarians have offices, assistants and facilities they need to be independent law makers. Chairpersons of Parliamentary Committees will be given due recognition similar to what our society gives to Ministers of State so that good people can aspire to those positions and enhance their productivity and value.
Public administration in today’s environment relies on the use of technology in many well performing countries. There are tested and proven technology solutions in use in many countries that can ease the burden of administration and service delivery associated with police, education, drivers and vehicle licensing, judicial administration etc. My administration will know where to go to transfer knowledge and technology for the nation’s benefit. At the same time, local technology companies will be challenged and given support to deliver solutions and provide ongoing support and maintenance. I know through my experience with the private sector that good local capacity exists.
Reducing the cost and size of administration is not a little matter. It is not one that will be easy – it has never been that way as there are always lobbyists working for representation of one type or the other for their “sons and daughters” in government. But it is a task that must be done. I have the will and the commitment to do it for the benefit of the nation in the capacity of the next President of the Republic of Ghana.