KT, Bryan,Asabee Grilled …By Appointment Committee
The Joe Osei-Wusu-led Parliament Appointment Committee (PAC) has vetted three of President Akufo-Addo’s nominees for ministerial appointments.
The three were theministers-designate for Trade and Industry, Food and Agriculture and Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs.
First to appear before the packed Committee Room yesterday, was the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Adansi-Asokwa constituency,Kobina Tahir Hammond, popularly known as KT Hammond.
The one-time deputy Minister of Energy under former President John Agyekum Kufuor, has been nominated for the Trade and Industry Ministry.
If passed by the committee and subsequently by Parliament, he will be replacing the resigned minister, Alan John Kwadwo Kyeremanten, who left government last month to pursue his presidential ambition.
At the encounter, which lasted many hours, Mr. Hammond jokingly expressed surprise about the number of hours he spent being interrogated.
Giving his relationship with his colleagues and priding himself as one of the longest-serving MPs earning the nickname “Class prefect,” KT had anticipated that he was going to spend less time but, in the end, he spent more than five hours.
Before delving into the issues, the jovial MP said “You introduced me as being the class prefect, the senior prefect. I’ll expect members to put up their best behaviour [then] I’ll put up my best behaviour. I’m the class prefect in the chair so I still remain the class prefect,” he said.
He was quizzed on several areas concerning his new portfolio including the economy, popular policies initiated by his predecessor including the flagship One District One Factory and many others that fall under the ministry.
He was particularly concerned about the rate at which Ghana imports some of the most basic of goods.
According to him, the situation is worrying and has the potential to derail efforts by the locals, adding that if checked that could improve the economy, which has been struggling for sometime now.
“We are importing guts, bladders, stomach of animals to Ghana to complement our foods. And that alone totaled about 164,575,000 plus some hundreds of dollars. I thought this is a little bit of a scandal,” he said.
He added, “These importations have terrible effects on our foreign exchange reserves. I think it’s about time we took a serious look at this particular issue. I’m told a committee was put up by cabinet to deal specifically with this matter.”
The long-serving MP also answered questions on his involvement in the sale of Ghana’s drillship in the early years of the former President’s administration while serving as Deputy Minister.
The nominee, whowas made to answer several questions on the issue, which became very topical in the 2000s, insisted he did nothing wrong at the time. The nominee, who answered these questions from members from the Minority side, denied that a Commission of Enquiry which was instituted by the then Mills government found him guilty of wrongdoing.
He answered questions on his recent outburst where he was accused of insulting the youth of Ghana as “people who have empty heads that cannot govern the affairs of the country if left to do so.”
Mr. Hammond denied insulting the youth but said it was true that they alone cannot be left to govern. He assured the committee, he willwork with everyone as his job states.
Though some of his answers sounded not convincing, as claimed by some on social media, he was able to bulldoze his way through and, in the end, he was discharged with the chairman informing him that he will hear from them.
Mr. Hammond was supported by his constituents, family, friends and colleagues, including the MP for Assin Central, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong.
Following the Trade and Industry minister-nominee was the nominee for the Food and Agriculture Minister and MP for the Abetifi constituency, Bryan Acheampong. Unlike the first nominee, the former Minister of State at the National Security Ministry spent less hours.
One of the highlights of his vetting was the question on the National Buffer Stock Company Limited, which is under the ministry previously headed by Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto. Mr. Acheampong said his research since his nomination has revealed very troubling development.
He said the Buffer Stock, which is going to be one of his priority areas, is cash-strapped, but assured he will do everything within his control to resource it so that it is able to carry out its mandate to assist in the provision of food to feed Senior High Schools.
The former minister of state also assured he will ensure agriculture is made more attractive to the youth. He also answered questions on the infamous Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election brutalities, which he denied any wrongdoing.
Mr. Acheampong, who is a second term MPand member of the committee,was prominently accompanied by chiefs and queen mothers from his constituency, as well as heads of institutions supervised by the ministry. Featuring chiefly was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board, Joseph Boahen Aidoo.
Also appearing before the committee was minister-designate for Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Stephen Asamoah Boateng. Like the others, Mr. Boateng is replacing the former minister, Ebenezer Kojo Kum, who resigned this month. Mr. Boateng was also accompanied by various chiefs, including the President of the National House of Chiefs,Ogyeahohoo Yaw Gyebi II.
The onetime Minister of Local Government and Rural Development and immediate past Director-General of the State Interest and Governance Authority (SIGA), responded toquestions which were mostly on chieftaincy and religious issues, as well as his work as D-G of SIGA.
Asked what his position was on same-sex marriage, the outspoken nominee said, “I am totally against it.”