The ranking member of Defence and Interior Committee of Parliament and National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Builsa North, James Agalga, yesterday caused controversy in parliament when in contributing to the debate on the 2019 budget, said, government should scrap the Ministry of National Security.
He also said government must, as matter of urgency, reverse its policy of increasing the service years for men or other ranks of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAR) after the new Legislative Instrument (L.I.) which seeks to increase the service years from 25 years to 30 years, matured on Monday, November 26.
He argued that government’s intention to increase the service years for other ranks of the GAR will bring down morale in the military and weaken its ability to defend the territorial lands of the country.
He posited that aged men of the GAR cannot fight and their health problems will be an added responsibility for the nation to bear adding that it is better to let these men go home after 25 years or even less with enhanced retirement packages as well as improved conditions of service.
He said in the United Kingdom and the United States of America, where Ghana is learning a lot of things from, service years are pegged at 18 and 22 years respectively to ensure that the military is always made up of able-bodied young men and women who can effectively defend their countries.
On the scrapping of the Ministry of National Security, the ranking member said the 2019 Budget did not mention anything about the Ministry not even the policy direction of the ministry.
He indicated that unlike 2017 and 2018 when the budgets made space for some policy statements, the 2019 budget is completely silent and therefore there could be no justification to maintain the ministry let alone approve any budgetary allocation for the running of the ministry.
He pointed out that parliament is there to scruntise and approve budget allocations with justifications but the Ministry of National Security has not given any justification for its existence.
The Minister of Defence, Dominic Nitiwul in responding to the issue of increasing the service years from 25 years to 30 years said the LI was presented to the Committee of Defence and Interior, of which Hon Agalga is the ranking member, for scrutiny and approval but as a ranking member, he refused to object to the policy and helped passed it.
According to the Minister, he is wondering why the ranking member is raising the issue in his contribution to the budget debate now that the LI has matured and taken effect.
He said the policy is to enable men in uniform to serve the nation for a longer period and get a befitting retirement packages as well.
The Deputy Minister of Defence, Major Derek Oduro (rtd) who also responded to the scrapping of the Ministry of National Security said issues of national security cannot be discussed openly that is why the ministry is given the opportunity to defend its budgetary allocation at the committee level.