Yaw Osafo Marfo
Myjoyonline.com brings you live update from Parliament where its Appointments Committee is set to vet four ministerial nominations starting with the Senior minister-designate, Yaw Osafo Marfo.
Strict security and enforcement of protocol means the cacophany that surrounds the vetting process has vanished. No teeming supporters outside to cheer their favourite politician, no intimidating delegations of chiefs,family members or close associates.
Today should be orderly, pensive and quite serene. Your reporter, Edwin Appiah is here to bring you live updates.
AA: ask a question about financing for housing and mortgage
OM: It is a pity that the system for Housing and Construction was allowed to collapse. I told the World Bank they misled the whole country. You can’t use commercial banks to fund housing or mortgage. They only give short-term.
Atta Akyea: Can you fire and hire as Senior minister?
OM: (excited about the question) He is not a prime minister as speculated. He cannot hire or fire.
Titus Glover: Ask a question about economic development
OM: Fundamentally, Ghana’s economy is strong. What is left is the management of the resources. Debt-servicing is 7% of GDP, growth is 3% of GDP. teachers and nurses allowance is 0.1% of GDP so you can more than pay those allowances if you manage resources well.
Haruna Iddrisu: Is worried the nominee called the President as Nana Addo. ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’, he says. He wants the nominee to give maximum respect to the President. ‘Children are listening’
OM: President Nana Addo Dankwa-Akufo Addo, he corrects.
Titus Glover: How are you going to plug revenue loopholes
OM: The revelations are shocking. SOmetimes I wake up and people would have slipped notes under my door. He says Revenue collection agencies must be taken off the payroll and incentivised differently. When he was a Finance minister, he gave the agencies a commission.
Titus Glover: Social media is worried about the size of Akufo-Addo’s ministers. Do you think the number is justified?
OM: The decision is for the president.He justifies the Ministry for Railways. Since Gordon Guggisberg, there has not been any serious attempt to develop railways. ‘Rail system needs complete overhaul’. Financing is also very complicated because you need long-term financing. ‘The attention of one minister to do this is not too much’. Left to him, he will appoint two deputies.
AY: How different is the Chief of Staff from Senior minister?
OM: Mine is specifically cordinate economic sector ministries. COS will run the secretariat of the Presidency
Ayisi: How the nominee tackle the economy
OM: In 2011 grew at 14%. Today is it between 3-4%. All of us must be thinking about growth
Haruna Iddrisu: Is the NPP a socialist or capitalist party.
OM: The NPP is center-right and I hope the NDC is center-lef as they claim to be. He laughs.
Mahama Ayariga, Bawku MP, gets his opportunity to question the constitutional basis for the Senior minister position. he wants to know if he has paid his taxes or declared his assets.
OM: I faithfully pay my taxes. He shows his tax clearance certificate. He says he has declared his assets twice and when he is approved he will declare his assets the third time. He says he believes in public declaration of assets.
MA: Are you higher in rank as a Senior minister? If I want to put a question to a minister, should he go thorugh the Senior minister?
OM: He reads Article 78(2) which allows the president to appoint ministers as he deems efficient. If the President wants to name his position as an ‘octopus’ ministry so be it. He says he is not superior to any minister. He says a question to Finance minister, will go to the Finance minister not him. He coordinates, supervises and can ‘flex some muscles’ when information from ministries is not forthcoming.
Anthony Karbo: asks a question about taxes and later wants the nominee to speak some German as he said he can.
OM: Withholding tax is a ‘lazy way of taxing’ so it will be reviewed along with corporate taxes. His team has already met three times on the taxes to be scrapped. He also speaks some German equilavent to ‘how are you?’
Anthony Karbo asked a ‘very complicated question’ about how he will make the economy business friendly and the IMF program
OM: Land and rent is a major challenge. There is nowhere in the world where you pay rent two years. Rent advance put off businesses which wanted to re-locate to Ghana during civil unrest. He wants Parliament to straighten some of these things according to the law.
IMF program ‘will certainly be reviewed’. Akufo-Addo needs fiscal space to implement his program which the IMF program does not currently allow. Secondly, most targets set between the IMF and NDC govt were missed. So ‘ even the IMF would want the program reviewed’
Nii Lante: Have you seen the National 40-year development plan
Osafo Marfo : I have had some input into the plan relating to infrastructure, power. I haven’t seen the final product but when I was consulted I gave my views. I do not believe in planning beyond 10 years because the world changes quickly.
Nii Lante is worried Osafo Marfo has not seen the plan. How is he going to continue with it?
Osafo Marfo: stresses the NPP was consulted. But the new government will not swallow it hook,line and sinker. ‘We will look at it critically.
Nii Lante Vanderpuye ask a question: What will be the relationship between your office, NDPC and Minisitry of Finance?
Osafo Marfo: NDPC does ‘super-planning’. His relationship with NDPC will therefore be cooperation.
11:04. Osafo Marfo is explaining his new position. He will cordinate the economic sector ministries like his predeccesor JH Mensah. He says he has done this kind of job in Liberia. The economy is the priority of the Akufo-Addo government and his past experience means he will bring in much, he explains.
10:57am Osafo Marfo is in blue suit,hot pink tie and lots of grey hair.
10:55am: First Deputy Speaker Hon. Joe Osei Owusu who chairs the Appointments Committee has prayed Parliament’s routine prayer. He has urged respect for the rules and invited the nominee.
At least 13 members of the committee are seated. A good number of them have also been nominated for positions – Napo, Nitiwul,Ursula – will it soften their mettle or temper their bite today? For the Minority MPs there is no such dilema or disuasion. They have promised to go for the jugular.
The last time a nominee was vetted it was John Oti Bless. The Minority were very keen on stopping his appointment for distasteful comments he made about judges months prior to the vetting.
The Minority is now the Majority, the Majority then now the Minority. Time they say – changes.
Osafo Marfo is a veteran politician. The former Akim Oda MP is not new to vetting or to ministerial work. He was appointed Minister of Finance in February 2001 and later to Education and Sports.
But this position – Senior Minister – is new to him and controversial for the Minority. Already Bawku MP from the Minority, Mahama Ayariga, has described the position as unconstitutional. We could find out more.