The Information Minister, Dr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid thinks that the number of staffers at the Presidency should not be a matter of concern but a commitment to protect the public purse should be the issue.
According to him, in 2017 for instance, the budget for government machinery was Gh₵1.5 billion under President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as against President John Mahama’s Gh₵3 billion in 2016, with a lesser staff numbers at the Presidency.
To him, “it is possible for two people presiding over a nation to squander its resources as opposed to a 100 people who are more prudent and more committed to saving the national purse.”
“I think that the argument about protecting the public purse in my view, has more to do with the attitude and commitment of the people who preside over the public purse,” he said in a radio interview on Accra based Joy FM Monday morning and monitored by Graphic Online.
President Akufo-Addo last week forwarded a list of 998 current staffers and ministers of state under the Office of the President to Parliament for purposes of accountability.
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The list, which is for the period January 7, 2017 to December 31, 2017 is in line with the constitution and the Presidential Office Act 1993 which enjoins the Presidency to annually brief Parliament on the list of persons who work at the Presidency.
The list shows the ministers of state at the presidency, persons working directly at the office of the president, senior presidential advisers, presidential staffers, and presidential aides and employees of other Public Services assigned to the Office of the President.
The list has angered many with some accusing President Akufo-Addo and his appointees of double standards, especially as in opposition, they complained about the 768 staffers of the Mahama administration and said the numbers were too high.
Responding to the concerns in the Joy FM interview, Dr Abdul-Hamid said: “in 2016, they [Mahama] had about Gh₵3 billion and then we came in 2017 with Gh₵1.5 billion” as budget for government machinery.
According to him, even though critics of the 998 staffers at the Presidency under Akufo-Addo thinks it is too high, it should be noted that the budget for government machinery under President Mahama in 2016 is about 100 percent higher than that of President Akufo-Addo in 2017.
He said there are over 200 people who have been recruited anew under the current President.
“We have already said that the other 700 people are already people who are existing in bureaucracies already and really, when a new government come in… there are few more people that you will employ depending on your project and programmes to advance the course of the nation.”
“I think that the argument about protecting the public purse in my view, has more to do with the attitude and commitment of the people who preside over the public purse.”
“It is possible for two people presiding over a nation to squander its resources as opposed to a 100 people who are more prudent and more committed to the saving of the national purse,” Dr Abdul-Hamid added
“Our list for example is a little above the President Mahama list but if you look at the budget but if you look at the budget of the office of government machinery under President Mahama, it is above the budget of President Akufo-Addo,” he said.