The appointments committee of Parliament has approved Ken Ofori-Atta as the Minister for Finance by consensus, Asaase News can confirm.
In their 22-page report signed by First Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Chairman of the appointments committee, Joe Osei-Owusu and Mrs. Rosemary Arthur Sarkodie, Clerk to the committee, the committee by consensus, recommended to Parliament to approve the nomination of Ofori-Atta.
“The committee, after deliberations on the nominations of His Excellency, the President for “Ministerial Appointments” and in accordance with Article 256 (1) of the 1992 Constitution and Order 172 of the Standing Orders of Parliament, recommends for the approval of the House, the nomination of Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta for appointment as Minister responsible for Finance,” the appointments committee report stated.
The minister-designate appeared before the committee on Thursday 25 March 2021 for four hours and for another four on Friday 26 March 2021, the only minister-nominee in President Akufo-Addo’s second-term government to have been vetted for two days.
During the vetting the appointments committee requested that the Finance Minister-designate provide clarification on four issues.
What the committee wanted
The committee members asked the Finance Minister-designate to assist them with further and better particulars on the engagement of an international consulting firm, the McKinsey Group, by the Ghana Revenue Authority. The GRA paid McKinsey roughly US$18.5 million to boost its revenue collection drive.
The appointments committee also expressed concern about a number of directors who were appointed to serve in various capacities in the public sector who previously held positions at Databank, a mutual fund and investment company co-founded by Ofori-Atta over 30 years ago.
Further, the appointments committee said that it will require further explanation from the Finance Minister-designate on issues raised by the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), accusing the Finance Ministry of failing to provide it with information for four straight years about how the government spent Ghana’s oil revenue under the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA). It is also asking questions about the use of petroleum receipts under PIAC.
Furthermore, the committee requested the nominee to provide members with details in connection with claims that the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) saved the state GHC2.75 billion between January 2017 and July 2019.
Asaase News sources at the Ministry of Finance have confirmed that the clarification requested by the appointments committee has been prepared and will be forwarded to the committee today (Monday 29 March 2021), before final confirmation of Ofori-Atta’s nomination by Parliament.
Outcome of vetting
During his vetting Ofori-Atta identified revenue mobilisation under property rates, addressing levels of tax exemption and digitisation of tax administration and collection as the three main areas on which he will focus.
These three thematic areas, he said, will help push the current ratio of tax to gross domestic product of about 12.5% to the proposed ratio of at least 17%, in an effort to progress towards Ghana Beyond Aid.
He described the 2021 Budget statement “as a battle cry” to all Ghanaians “to share the burden” that COVID-19 has placed on us as a nation. He again noted that aside from the need to burden-share, Ghana must not lose sight of the fact that the 2021 Budget seeks to complete at least 8,700 projects as the government’s way of bringing an end to the culture of not completing projects funded with taxpayers’ monies.
“Consolidation is important for us because the macroeconomic indicators have been stable, and clearly what we did in the past three and a half years was what was able to support us in 2020 when the pandemic hit,” Ofori-Atta said.
Taxpayers better off
Ofori-Atta said that a critical analysis of taxes abolished in the first term of the Akufo-Addo government showed that, in net terms, taxpayers are better off now than they were under the John Mahama-led National Democratic Congress government.
“When you look at the taxes we abolished, reduction in electricity and what we have done during this COVID-19 era, clearly, on a net basis, we have not really hurt the Ghanaian taxpayer, if you compare us to the previous government,” he said.
He appealed to Ghanaians to embrace the call to share the financial burden of the state and assured them that the government is still committed to moving the economy from a taxation-driven to a production-based model.