General News of 2014-02-13

Size of presidential staff too big, wasteful – Prof. Amoako Baah

The staff strength of 678 at the Presidency has been criticised as unreasonably large and an unnecessary drain on the public purse.

The Head of the Political Science Department of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Professor Amoako Baah, says there cannot be any justification for such a large number of people to work at the presidency.

He challenged the government to, as a first step in addressing the economic woes of the country, “slim down the government [because] the smaller the government, the less money we spend on the government”.

President John Mahama, acting in accordance with Section 11 of the Presidential Act 1993, which requires the president to submit a list of staffers to Parliament annually, presented a report containing 678 names to the House on Wednesday.

The tall list included four presidential advisors, four ministers of state, 24 presidential staffers and other civil/public service staff.

Professor Amoako Baah told Joy News the President does not need more than two advisors, for example.

He indicated that many of the functions that the presidential staffers and advisors are performing overlap with those of ministers, deputies and directors as well as district, municipal and metropolitan chief executives.

“This is wasteful,” he remarked, adding that the figure is too big for a small country like Ghana that is also reeling under economic hardships.

“When you have all these people around the president, it is not even good for efficiency because each person has to demonstrate his worthiness there, and so when you go into meetings everybody would want to say something or do something to show that he is important there when most of the things they are doing are unnecessary; and which few people can do. It is wasteful,” he asserted.

The list also attracted sharp criticisms from the former Chief of Staff under the Kufuor administration.

Mr Kwadwo Mpiani says the figure is too high; it is “job for the boys”.

He claimed the state spends so much money to pay the salaries and wages of people in public service, and yet they complain of low wages.

“Too many people who are doing nothing at the public sector...there is quite a number of them who do very little... about four people doing the work of one person, it cannot be done in the private sector,” he noted.

But the Minister of Information Mahama Ayariga has defended the numbers saying they are “not farfetched”.