Spio-Garbrah Grilled Over ‘Team B’ Comment

Mr. Spio  Garbrar  answering questions from the Committee members.  Photo  Maxwell K. Bilson (6)DR. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, the Ministerdesignate for Trade and Industry, yesterday ate his humble pie in Parliament when he apologised for describing ministers appointed by the late President John Evans Attah Mills’ as “Team B Players”.

He rendered the apology when he appeared before the Parliamentary Appointments Committee to be vetted.

The former Minister of Communications in the erstwhile NDC government had in an article published in the Daily Graphic in 2010, describing the ministers as incompetent and “Team B ministers”.

When the issue was raised, the minister-designate, who was grilled for more than six hours,   explained that the article was not meant to demean the government appointees or the late President, but   just to highlight the sentiments of the public about the government.

“As a communication expert and member of the NDC, my article was to re-echo the sentiments of the public about the government, and bring it to the attention of the President”.

According to him, the message he sought to communicate was misconstrued to mean that he was describing the government appointees as incompetent.

‘’I apologised on several platforms when my attention was drawn to the   article,’’ Dr. Spio-Garbrah said.

Quizzed whether he wrote the article to influence the President to appoint him into the government, he responded in the negative.

“Mr Chairman I was then the Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, a position which was more lucrative than that of a minister of state,’’ he said.

The Chairman of the committee Mr. Ebo Barton-Oduro, ruled on the issue and said, “Since the minister-designate has apologised, let us not revisit the issue.’’

Other members of the committee commended Dr Spio-Garbrah for his sincerity on the issue and his boldness to apologise.

Asked if he was bringing on board any new ideas to address the challenges facing the manufacturing sector and industry, the minister-designate said he does not have a magic wand to address the trade deficit   facing the country, but will encourage the consumption of Made in Ghana products, and promote value addition to the country’s natural resources.

“I will not make any promise. My vision is to implement the existing policies and programmes of the government,’’ he stated.

Dr Spio-Garbrah said he would promote the use of Made-in-Ghana products to reduce the country’s over-reliance on imports, when he is given the nod, saying education would be intensified to encourage the citizenry to patronise goods made in the country.

He also promised to promote the Operation Feed Yourself system so that the citizens would grow the food they eat, to reduce the country’s reliance on imported rice.

Dr Spio-Garbrah suggested that state organisations such as the Prisons Service, schools and State Protocol should use local rice and chicken products as a way of boosting local production.

The minister-designate also said he would encourage value addition to the country’s natural resources.

He would use his expertise to attract private capital and foreign companies to establish plants in Ghana’.

Asked what he would do to prevent foreigners from venturing into the retail trade sector, Dr. Spio-Garbrah said the Inter -Ministerial Taskforce would be strengthened to carry out its mandate.

He appealed to those Ghanaians fronting for foreigners to engage in the retail trade, to desist from the practice.

Responding to a question on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and whether it would not kill the country’s industria-lisation agenda, the Trade Minister-Designate said Ghana could derive a lot of benefits from the agreement.

He said when given the nod, he would discuss with some European companies and investors to invest in Ghana and attract private sector capital to assist private enterprises with finance to boost their businesses.

By Kingsley Asare & Gloria Mensah

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