The Civil and Local Government Staff Association, Ghana (CLOGSAG) has given a two-week ultimatum to ministers to come clear on the responsibilities of their special assistants, since those special assistants appear to have taken over the roles of civil servants.
According to CLOGSAG, many civil servants had been sidelined, while special assistants had taken over their responsibilities, leaving the civil servants in a situation where they were unable to function properly after a change of government or after any ministerial reshuffle.
Delivering the 2018 CLOGSAG May Day message in Accra yesterday, the Executive Secretary of CLOGSAG, Mr Isaac Bampoe Addo, expressed worry over the excessive use of political power to obstruct laid down procedures and processes in appointments and administrative matters, a development he believed could mar the existing cordial relations between the government and the association.
“There are situations where some ministers have assumed administrative responsibilities (ultra vires) and signed letters for civil servants to proceed on leave. Where some of these civil servants are deemed lucky, they are sidelined for special assistants of these ministers to encumber their positions, the extreme case being the appointment of internal auditors by some ministers,” he said.
The situation, Mr Addo, said was a clear violation of procedures in the Civil Service, adding: “It is not uncommon to eventually blame civil servants for the lapses of these non-career civil servants often called special assistants.”
Although the issue had been presented to the Head of the Civil Service, he said nothing had been done about the problem, although the head had promised to look into the matter.
To forestall those developments, he recommended that the affected ministers should be called to order, especially the Minister of Finance, who the CLOGSAG accused of recruiting staff outside the Civil Service to head various divisions or departments within the Ministry of Finance.
Another canker that was gradually eating at the roots of efficiency within the government machinery, Mr Addo said, was the wanton consultancies to private entities.
He said through such consultancies, private individuals and companies had got access to confidential information on workers within the Civil Service.
“Nowadays, it is a common phenomenon for our members to receive telephone calls from some companies or enterprises addressing them with their personal details. The caller has virtually got all the personal details which were supposed to be confidential information on the worker at his disposal,” he said.
Mr Addo said the situation was not a healthy one and could be the source of leakages in the Civil and the Local Government services.
“The government could bring a stop to this practice if proper monitoring and evaluation of consultancies are carried out. After all, the cost of some of these consultancies is far higher than the recurrent expenditure of some of the ministries,” he added.
He said as of now, there were no committees or bodies assessing the effectiveness, impact and relevance of consultants who had been engaged in the Civil Service and called on the government to initiate programmes to assess the impact of both local and international consultants.
He identified the practice of outsourcing core functions of institutions to private entities as another disturbing feature within the Civil Service.
According to him, it was envisaged that out-sourcing some core functions would enhance and improve performance and that it was not intended to kill or make the original institution dysfunctional.
“Unfortunately, we are finding ourselves in a situation where more core functions of some institutions or departments are being given out and the institutions are gradually grinding to a halt,” he said.
Mr Addo said CLOGSAG had launched the Political Neutrality Project that sought to publicise the Supreme Court ruling on political neutrality to its members, so that they would serve the public better.
“It is expected that the government will address the issue of political interference in the administration of the Civil and the Local Government services and assess the impact of consultants to complement the efforts of CLOGSAG in contributing to the improvement in service delivery,” he added.
Touching on the transfer of the Temporary Pension Fund Account (TPFA) funds to the four public sector schemes, Mr Addo assured members that CLOGSAG was continuously monitoring the pension funds, to the extent that not a pesewa in terms of fees was transferred or paid to any of its service providers.
“The reason being that we had questioned the guidelines on the payment of fees to our service providers, including trustees, fund managers and custodians, as well as fees to the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) that are to be based on the ratio on net asset value and shares.
“The current guidelines can be computed using different methods and that can create a gap that can be exploited to the disadvantage of contributors.
“The CLOGSAG will stand its ground and not allow any money to be taken out of the pension funds in the custodian bank until validation by the NPRA of a well-defined method for the calculation of fees that leave no room for manipulation of any kind,” he said.