Parliament debates on status of Regional Ministers

 Prof. Mike Oquaye, Speaker of Parliament

Prof. Mike Oquaye, Speaker of Parliament

MINORITY Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, has invited Parliament to make a determination on whether or not to vet Regional Ministers who have been ‘elevated’ to sector minister status.

 

According to Mr Iddrisu, the constitution does not recognise regional ministers as Cabinet ministers, and that anytime they were elevated to that status, they needed to come back to the House for further interrogation.

 

The Tamale South MP made this proposal on the floor of the House yesterday in Accra after the Speaker, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, read out President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s letter informing the House on the new changes he had made to his ministerial pool.

 

In that communication, President Akufo-Addo urged the House to expedite the vetting of Ministers designate for Information, Gender, Children and Social Protection, Upper East, Deputies for the BrongAhafo and Eastern regions.

 

In a ministerial shakeup in August, President Akufo-Addo moved the then Brong Ahafo and Upper East Regional Ministers, Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh and Rockson Bukari to the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry and Office of the President respectively.

 

That arrangement, though Mr Iddrisu admitted was not new to Ghana’s democratic dispensation, he said it was time the country took a position on it.

 

He argued that: “Clause A and B of Article 256 of the 1992 Constitution makes the regional ministers representatives of the President in the regions, and make them responsible for the co-ordination and direction of the administrative machinery in the regions unlike other ministers who are labelled as ‘Ministers of State’ in article 78 of the Constitution.”

 

Supporting his opposite colleague, the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said Mr Iddrisu’s concern needed to engage the attention of the House.

 

“Technically, they are not the same as sector ministers,” Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu noted, and went ahead to submit that there was the need for people to be appointed and vetted based on their competences in order not to make the ministries a “turf of trial and error.”

 

The Suame legislator said by convention, regional ministers who had been made sector ministers never came to the House for vetting, but they migrated seemingly to their new roles, and it was time the House looked at that arrangement.

 

Doing this, he said, would enhance Ghana’s democratic structure.

 

On his part, Professor Oquaye, said the Constitution does not differentiate between regional ministers and sector ministers.

 

He said though it was yet to happen, since the country returned to democratic rule in 1993, the President was at liberty to appoint any minister in his government to be a Cabinet minister.

 

The Speaker deferred the discussion on the matter to another day.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI 

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