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More ministers designate appear for vetting

BY: Abigail Bonsu

Four more of President John Mahama’s ministerial nominees have appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament, during which they were assessed to ascertain whether they were capable to man the sectors they had been assigned to.

They were Alhaji Amin Amidu Sulemani, minister-designate for Roads and Highways; Mr Clement Kofi Humado, Food and Agriculture; Alhaji A.B. Inusah Fuseini, Lands and Natural Resources, and Mr Mahama Ayariga, Information.

Members of the Minority New Patriotic Party, in furtherance of their decision to boycott sittings of the committee, were once again absent from Friday's sitting.

Alhaji Sulemani, who was the first to appear, said if approved, he would work for an increase in the Road Fund Levy to make more money available for road rehabilitation and ensure that roads were built to withstand all kinds of weather conditions.

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He expressed dissatisfaction with the shoddy road construction works undertaken by contractors and promised to strengthen the monitoring and evaluation department of the ministry to prevent contractors from carrying out shoddy works.

He said it was criminal for contractors who engaged in shoddy works to be paid for such work done and advocated sanctions to be put in place to deal with such recalcitrant contractors.

The minister-designate said it was unfortunate that some contractors use substandard materials in the execution of their contracts and attributed the situation to lack of supervision by site engineers.

Alhaji Sulemani said he would liaise with the technical people at the ministry to strengthen the supervision of contracts.

He also expressed regret over the lack of capacity of contractors and engineers and said he would build their capacities to enable them to be up to the task of constructing good and durable roads.

He said the use of modern equipment was essential to the execution of road projects and promised to assist local contractors to acquire modern machinery for the proper execution of their contracts.

On public-private partnership in road construction and management, Alhaji  Sulemani stated that that policy was already in existence and intimated that when given the nod, he would consult players in the industry to see whether its implementation would be feasible.

When he took his turn during the vetting, Mr Humado told the committee that for the country to move towards modernising agriculture, mechanisation was important and promised to pursue that policy.

 He said the use of improved seeds by farmers was also essential for them to have the required yields and said the ministry needed to provide that assistance to farmers.

 Mr Humado said it was quite unfortunate that subsidised fertiliser meant to alleviate the plight of rural farmers were being smuggled to neighbouring countries. 

 He promised to liaise with the security agencies to put in place stringent measures to prevent such smuggling which, if not checked, could threaten the proper implementation of the policy.

On irrigation, he noted that only five per cent of the total irrigable land was being used for irrigation.

He said the government had plans to develop irrigation in the northern part of the country, as well as the Accra Plains, which had the potential to produce enough food for the entire country.

Mr Humado said he would liaise with the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority to develop small-scale irrigation schemes in other parts of the country.

He said it was also important for electricity to be extended to such small irrigation sites to ensure the efficient operation of the schemes.

The minister also touched on issues such as the tomato glut and the need to improve local production of rice to reduce its import.

For his part, the minister-designate for Lands and Natural Resources, Alhaji Fuseini, dwelt more on the land sector of the ministry and explained that the current Land Administration Project would go a long way to minimise the multiple sale of land.

He explained that the first phase of the project had had a positive impact on land administration and expressed the hope that the second phase would consolidate the gains which had been made.

He also touched on the activities of illegal miners and said he would work towards the implementation of laws on mining in the country.

The Information minister-designate, Mr Ayariga, told the committee that there was the need for the ministry to exist to co-ordinate government’s information flow.

 "Whether there are public relations outfits in the ministries, departments and agencies or there exists a public relations outfit at the Castle, the Ministry of Information should exist to disseminate government policies and give the government a feedback.

On the Media Development Fund, Mr Ayariga explained that it was a genuine attempt by the government to develop the capacities of the media.

He said there was the need for transparency in the processes leading to accessing the fund by beneficiaries to enable Ghanaians to appreciate the good intentions of the government in the setting of the fund.

Answering a question on the broadcasting bill, Mr Ayariga said his information was that it was still at the drafting stage and promised to make sure that it was sent to the Cabinet for approval before being sent to Parliament for passage.

He told the committee that he was not perturbed by the high attrition rate of ministers of information and pledged that he would work hard to make an impact at the ministry if given the nod.  

Story by Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah & Mark-Anthony Vinorkor