General News of 2014-02-15

Cut half of public service staff; pay the rest better - Mpiani suggests

"Cut half out and pay the rest better" a former Chief of Staff's remedy for Ghana's huge but ineffective public and civil service.

Mr. Kwadwo Okyere Mpiani who worked under the John Kufuor administration believes Ghana is ultimately the loser because dissatisfied Ghanaians have to live with the output of a dissatisfied public bureaucracy.

Triggered by revelations that the Presidency shoulders an 'unnecessary' staff strength of 678, the former Chief of Staff told Joy FM's Newsfile, the numbers are symptoms of a larger problem in the public and civil service.

Government has been complaining about the huge wage bill currently pegged at Ghc11 billion. It also spends 70% of its tax revenue on footing this bill.

An accurate headcount of Ghana's public and civil service is unknown, but players estimate it is over 600,000.

"Maybe if we have 600,000 as we are being told, half of this number can do the work well; so that we pay this half very well and have the other half off...this is the way I believe we should approach it," Mpiani recommended.

Zooming in on the criticized figure of presidential staffers, the former Chief of Staff said despite the number, "the president has no power to sack any of them" because he is not the appointing authority for most of them - cleaners, gardeners, postmen, security guards and cooks.

It is only the political staffers that are at the political mercy of the president.

Looking back on his time in office, he observed that, "realistically 5 or 6 people [are] doing the work which conveniently can be done by one or two people".

Kwadwo Mpiani also oversaw a staff strength of 692 in 2005.

During his time, the World Bank was doing a project to determine the required size of public and civil servants, Mpiani recollected.

He continued that the project was under his Office, but then it was moved to Senior Minister's outfit -headed by J.H Mensah and again moved to Paa Kwesi Nduom's Ministry of Public Sector Reform.

"I don't know what has happened to it now," Kufuor's executive number three man said. Going back to that project was the way forward, "I think we should do that," he said.

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