Minority demands clarity on Public Enterprises Ministry

BY: Nana Konadu Agyeman
Mr Haruna Iddrisu
Mr Haruna Iddrisu

The vetting of the Minister designate for Public Enterprises, Mr Joseph Cudjoe, was briefly put on hold yesterday after the Minority Leader questioned the legality of the portfolio the nominee would occupy.

The Minority also questioned the role the designate would play as a minister of state.

The Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, strongly objected to the vetting of the nominee on grounds that there was no Executive Instrument (E.I.12) creating the ministry and was not recognised by law, a reason for which the Minority would not be part of the vetting process.

He stated that the Civil Service Ministries Instrument 2021, E.I. 12, featured the various ministries that were legally existent and the list excluded the Ministry of Public Enterprises.

The Minority raised the objection soon after Mr Cudjoe had taken his seat and given a little background of himself.

We demand clarity

Before he could fully introduce himself to the committee, Mr Iddrisu raised the preliminary objection to the committee proceeding with the vetting.

“Conspicuously lost in the E.I. is the Ministry for Public Enterprises. So if we do proceed to vet Honourable Cudjoe, are we vetting him as Minister of State or a minister heading a secretariat because within the meaning of E.I. 12 there is no Ministry for Public Enterprises,” he said.

He said while he had no issue in questioning the mandate of the President under Article 78, which gave him the Executive authority to appoint ministers, the President must make appointments in accordance with the law.

“At the personal level, I will not support a Ministry of Public Enterprises because every ministry is a public enterprise of a sort. To what ministry is Honourable Joseph Cudjoe going?” he asked.

He, therefore, requested the Office of the President to provide more clarity and guidance.

Mr Iddrisu said the Executive must not be encouraged to engage in illegal nominations, since it often took Parliament for granted, saying: “Yes, it is your power to do, but do so within the law.”

“So, accordingly, I am demanding clarity from the President. He should just give a formal letter clarifying the status of the minister. The President has fiduciary duty to the law and I find his appointment unsatisfactory,” he said.

“Mr Chairman, my application is before you; it is not my intention that we take sides in this national exercise, but momentarily for Honourable Cudjoe, our side will just sit and observe while we wait for clarity and better particulars from the Presidency.

“We do not intend to take part in further proceedings until we receive satisfactory explanation from the Office of the President. That will be our attitude towards this vetting,” Mr Iddrisu said.

Majority reaction

Reacting to the objections raised by the Minority Leader, the Deputy Majority Leader, Mr Alexander Afenyo Markin, said he understood the concerns by Mr Iddrisu, against the backdrop that E.I. 12 did not include the portfolio expected of the nominee.

He, however, said the Minority Leader’s submission was silent on the issues of whether or not the President could make an appointment at the Presidency for a minister responsible for a particular sector and whether or not such appointment would require an E.I. specifically detailing a specific ministry for the purpose of that office.

“If I heard my colleague clearly, all he is saying is if the nominee is going to operate at the Office of the President and is in charge of a specific portfolio, then he has no objection.

“It is only when he is going to have a ministry under him that he (Minority Leader) would have an objection, and that will be right by the E.I.,” Mr Markin stated.

Not first in history

Mr Markin, who is the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Efutu, pointed out that it was not the first time that a President had made such a ministerial nomination on which a member of the Appointments Committee had sought clarity.

He cited the appointment of the MP for Sefwi Wiaso, Dr Kwaku Afriyie, who was appointed at the Presidency, as well as several other ministers of state appointed to specific ministries.

“So I would want us to construe his nomination not as one for the purpose of running a ministry, so that the clarity he seeks will be understood in that context, unless otherwise,” Mr Markin said.

He told the committee that while members awaited clarity from the Presidency, the vetting of the nominee should not be disrupted.

Chairman’s ruling

Ruling on the matter, the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Mr Joseph Osei Owusu, gave the assurance that the committee would, in its report, draw the House’s attention to the fact that E.I. 12 did not list Public Enterprises as a ministry.

He, therefore, expressed the hope that the House or the Presidency would give clarity on the matter, reminding the committee that “our responsibility is to consider the nominee, as referred to us by Mr Speaker and report to the House”.

He expressed worry that matters that had been raised and discussed at pre-sitting meeting should be brought up when the nominee was due for vetting and confirmation.

“It is inappropriate, sitting here as committee chairman, to take a matter arising out of here to the Presidency without going to the Speaker. As a committee of the House and a matter that is brought before us as a committee, we report to the House through Mr Speaker,” he stated.


Following appeals by two members of the committee, the NPP MP for Okaikwei Central, Mr Patrick Boamah, and the NDC MP for North Tongu, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, for a 10-minute in-camera discussion of the concerns by the Minority, the chairman told the nominee to excuse the committee briefly.

Vetting resumes

After the break, the nominee resumed his seat and answered questions for about an hour and a half.

Asked how he would describe public enterprises, Mr Cudjoe said they included state-owned enterprises, joint ventures and other entities in which the government had commercial interests.

On the role he would play, he made reference to the State Interest and Governance Act, 2019, Act 990, which made provision for the Minister of Public Enterprises to be responsible for State Interests and Governance Authority (SIGA) which oversaw 86 public enterprises.

He said the role of the minister was to exercise oversight on those public enterprises.

“The state of public enterprises today includes high losses, indebtedness, low productivity, low efficiency and a weak governance structure to make them profitable. These have been a drain on government resources,” he said.