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‘Abrogation of last-minute contracts will lead to judgment debts’

Politics

Accra, March 14, GNA - Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, the Senior Minister, said some of the contracts signed by the previous government at the eleventh hour were not in the interest of the state though abrogating them would lead to judgment debts.

He said one of the challenges facing the current government was that some contracts signed by the previous one could not be implemented because they were not in the interest of the state.

He said many of the contracts were signed by the John Mahama-led Government in the last 14 days to the end of its tenure and this amounted to breach of good faith.

Mr Osafo-Maafo, who was the chairperson of the then incoming government’s Transition Team, made these remarks at a roundtable discussion organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a policy think tank, to review the 2017 Presidential Transition in Accra, on the theme: ‘‘Strengthening Presidential Transitions in Ghana’’.

The roundtable discussion brought together various stakeholders including political party representatives, civil society organisations and donor partners that dispassionately discussed the shortcomings in the transition law.

The meeting discussed some lapses in the Presidential Transition Act, (Act 845) promulgated in 2012 and proposed amendment to the law in order to strengthen and deepen the country’s democratic credentials.

Mr Osafo-Maafo said the Presidential Transition Law required the outgoing government to submit the handing over notes of the various ministries to the Administrator-General’s Office of the Presidential Estates Unit, 30 days before the conduct of the general election.

He said even though he held meetings with the chairperson of the out-going government’s team, Mr Julius Debrah, for mutual understanding and ensure acrimonious-free process, the appointments and contracts signed were against the spirit and letter of the law.

For fairness sake, he said, the appointment of the Auditor-General was in bad taste because by law, the Auditor-General was supposed to audit the previous government and queried why he was appointed at the last-minute.

Mr Osafo-Maafo reiterated the need to review the Presidential Transition Law, saying the law needed serious amendment in view of the lapses identified after its implementation in the 2017 transition.

He said certain provisions in the law needed clarity in view of inherent ambiguity and challenges posed during the transition period.

Commenting on the transition process, he said after the inauguration of the Transition Team, the reports by the various ministries were not ready.
 
However, eight of the reports were presented three days after the inauguration of the transition team out of the 25 reports expected from the outgoing government.

He expressed concern about non-availability of Asset Registers for the ministries, adding that the register was supposed to detail out all the properties of the ministries for easy tracking and evaluation.

Mr Michael Ofori Mensah, a Senior Research Fellow of the IEA, said after 24 years of constitutional rule, Ghana was viewed as a model of democracy in Africa due to successive and peaceful elections.

However, he said, the process of regime change had revealed institutional failures that undermined the country’s democracy.

Mr Mensah said the acrimony that characterised the transition process polarised the political atmosphere and, therefore, advocated the review of the law to ensure smoother transfer of political power in the future.

He suggested that the Administrator-General’s Office should report to Parliament every six months or annually so that the legislative body would have oversight responsibility over the executive arm of government on the country’s assets.

Mr Ben Abdallah Bandah, the Chairperson of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, said the country must learn lessons from the 2013 and 2017 Presidential Transitions in order to improve upon the process.

He noted that the various political transitions had been characterised by hostilities, acrimony, accusations and counter accusations by officials of the outgoing government and the incoming government coupled with institutional failures.

He commended the IEA for its contribution towards the country’s governance process.

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