National Democratic Congress [NDC] MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, claims the number of persons said to be working under the Presidency has been understated.
According to him, the number may increase from 998 to 1,697.
“There are many more names we know that are not on the list. He has budgeted for 1,697 this year. So the 998 which we are all outraged about is not even the end. He hopes to get to 1967 in 2018,” Mr. Ablakwa said on Eyewitness News.
Mr. Ablakwa based this figure on allocations in the 2018 budget.
Voices aligned to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government have cited the increase in the number of ministers as the reason for the increased numbers working under the presidency.
But Mr. Ablakwa argued that this fact should have instead ensured smaller numbers.
“We would have thought that having appointed 110 ministers, having created new ministries, having created all of these development authorities, they would have had the leanest office of government machinery since [Kwame] Nkrumah.”
Mr. Ablakwa, like other NDC members, also feels President Nana Akufo-Addo has gone back on his promise to protect the public purse.
“These are not persons who are volunteering, who are coming to help president Akufo-Addo for free… but to the extent that they are going to work and the pressure on our taxes, we have to be concerned.”
It is for this reason that Mr Ablakwa said a ceiling for the appointment of staff under the presidency was needed to ensure efficiency.
“That is what we are saying that it is time to place a cap now. We need to place a limit on the number of ministers and the number of presidential staffers that can be appointed. We believe that Article 78(2) has been abused.”
The Article in question says: “The President shall appoint such number of Ministers of State as may be necessary for the efficient running of the State.”
Numbers not over-bloated
Responding to the claim that the number of staff under the Presidency had been underdeclared, Herbert Krapa, the government spokesperson on governance and legal affairs, stressed that “the figure that has been sent to Parliament that we are all interrogating is the figure of 998. That is the matter that we are discussing.”
He also suggested that the outrage over the figure is an exaggeration, given the difference between this figure and that of the Mahama government, which had 778 staff under the presidency.
“You must realise that it is not such an astronomical increase that anybody should say we have bloated the number so much that it is unjustifiable. It is justifiable to the extent that it is a value addition conversation,” he stated.