General News of Fri, 30 Jan 20041

Support allegations with evidence - Minister

Accra, Jan. 30, GNA- Mr. Yaw Barima, Minister of Employment and Manpower Development, Friday called on members of the minority parties to provide evidence to support several allegations of corruption against government, to enable it direct appropriate institutions to investigate the allegations.

He made the call in parliament during the continuation of debate on the State of the Nation Address by President J A Kufuor last week. Mr. Barima noted that an erroneous impression was being created by the minority groups in parliament that the President conspicuously refused to touch on corruption in his address, saying that on pages six and seven of the address the President stated government's commitment to deal with corruption and cited Ghana Airways.

"But as for the several allegations of corruption made by particularly those in the NDC, by law the onus lies on them to provide the appropriate institutions with some evidence which they can follow to investigate the matter thoroughly and come out with facts," he said.

He cited an example of the past when an MP was arrested and detained based on allegations without proof or evidence, adding that at that time, both majority and minority members condemned the act as "unwarranted harassment of an Honourable member of parliament."

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"I hope the NDC members are not asking us to do the same in this instance and just arrest and detain people based on mere allegations of corruption," he said.

He said "I do not consider myself as a corrupt person, but in the minority's allegation galore, they have branded all ministers and public officials as corrupt people without concrete evidence to support such allegations."

Mr. Barima also noted that on the issue of job creation in the country, it was wrong for the minority to say that the President deceived the house by saying that several thousands of jobs have been created.

He said job creation was a process and not a one-time event, adding that the NPP government has begun the process in earnest and would reach targets over time.

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He said as part of the process the government, through its manpower development policy, was in the process of providing young persons with employable skills to either be self-employed or to qualify for employment in various sectors of the economy.

Mr. Prince Ernest Oduro-Mensah, NPP-Techiman South, touched on the issue of high school fees, saying that the increases in schools fees was not unique compared to previous governments, especially the PNDC-NDC, which set the precedent of increasing the rate of schools fees by very high percentages.

Quoting from a document captioned "Ministry of Education School Fees History" obtained from the MOE, he said in a particular year, during the NDC government's era, school fees was increased by about 150 per cent from 138,000 cedis to 350,000 for secondary schools.

He said it was not for the minority members not even the majority members to tell the President what the State of the Nation address should contain at any particular point in time.

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"The President decides the content of the address and I want to assure your that, that was just the skeleton, the real meat will come in the 2004 budget statement next week."

Mr. Joe Gidisu, NDC- North Tongu urged the government to ensure that there was a dispassionate discussion when it came to national development, saying that politics was not only about development because if it were the Ashanti region would have been the world bank of the NDC.

He explained that the Ashanti Region and Kumasi in particular in the central nerve of several major asphalted roads in he country constructed during the NDC era and yet most of the people of that region voted against the NDC.

Earlier, the house approved of the selection of five members, namely, Mr. Abraham Ossei-Aidooh, Deputy Majority Leader, Alhaji Malik Al-Hassan Yakubu, Deputy Majority Chief Whip, Mr. Andrews Adjei-Yeboah, NPP - Tano South, Mr, John Dramani Mahama, NDC-Bole and Mrs. Ama Benyiwa-Doe, NDC - Gomoa West, to represent the house at the Pan-African parliament for a four year term.

This follows a motion by the Majority Leader, Felix Owusu-Adjapong and seconded by Minority Leader Alban Bagbin for the five, which must include at least one women to be selected to occupy the five seats Ghana has at the Pan African Parliament "in accordance with article 17 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union (AU) and article 14 of the Abuja Treaty."

Mr Bagbin said the five were selected based on their demonstrated competence on the floor of the house and also according to laid down criteria for selection of members in to the Pan African Parliament. Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Majority Chief Whip said the five have a four year term, provided they remain members of parliament after this year's election, adding that the next parliament has the right to either reconstitute the membership of Ghana's representative in the Pan African Parliament.

Major Retired Samuel K. Amponsah, NDC- Mpohor Wassa East said "I do not doubt the competence of the members selected to represent the house at the Pan African Parliament but I suggest that next time round those selected must be presented to the various caucuses before they are finally mentioned on the floor of the house to ensure a more democratic process."

Alhaji Muhamad Mumuni, NDC-Kumbungu said the process of selecting members to Pan African and other regional Parliament was not democratic enough, adding that "the leaders of the house can not continue to do the selection on behalf of the other members - the entire membership of the house must be given the opportunity to elect their representatives." Mrs. Grace Coleman, NPP-Effiduase-Asokore said those selected to the Pan African Parliament needed some counselling to be more efficient and effective in articulating the concerns of the country.

Source: GNA

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