The much-awaited vetting of the Finance Minister-designate, Ken Ofori-Atta takes place today, by the Appointments Committee of Parliament.
Though the Finance Minister nominee had initially been scheduled to be grilled on March 8, this year, ill-health, following post-COVID-19 recovery complications forced the date to be postponed.
If he had been vetted earlier, he would have presented the 2021 Budget Statement of Akufo-Addo’s first year of the second term. However, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Leader of Government Business in Parliament did so in his stead.
Mr Ken Ofori-Atta spent about 30 days at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, USA, where he received specialised treatment for post COVID-19 complications.
Prior to his return, Mr Ofori-Atta, during a virtual post-budget forum-expressed gratitude to Ghanaians for an improved health condition attributing his recovery to the grace of God and continuous prayers from Ghanaians.
With expectations among Ghanaians to solicit responses on some key issues about the first term of the Akufo-Addo government, his vetting would be incomplete without addressing issues relating to the financial sector clean-up.
Ghanaians are keen to hear what Mr Ken Ofori-Atta’s response would be on the subject, considering the fact that it took place under his watch.
Ahead of today’s vetting, government has stated in this year’s budget statement that the financial sector clean-up, which led to the collapse of some insolvent financial institutions cost the taxpayer GH¢21 billion.
Government maintained that the clean-up was necessary because of mismanagement at these financial institutions, which led to depositors’ funds being locked up with no hope of such funds ever being accessed.
Moreover, judging from the vetting of the Attorney General, Health Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, who in turn told the Appointments Committee that they had no knowledge about the COVID-19 testing at the Kotoka International Airport, it would be surprising if the minority MPs do not raise that issue with Mr Ken Ofori-Atta.
The next controversial issue anticipated to be a point of focus for the minority Members of Parliament (MPs) on the Appointments Committee is the Agyapa Gold Royalties deal.
The Agyapa royalty was a gold royalty company and its main purpose, according to the government, was to offer financing to gold mining companies that wanted to develop new mining projects in exchange for royalties or revenue once the mines started producing gold.
The explanation from the government has been that the rationale for the transaction was to create and launch Africa’s first gold royalty company and showcase Ghana as the premier destination for gold assets and resource mining, whilst raising non-debt funding for capital investment.
Government is optimistic this is a sure way to attract investment into the sector, increase exploration activity, provide financing to owners of mining concessions looking for equity type of financing to develop their mines and bring them to production as well as ensure rural development.
Income from this transaction will be used in four main areas, health, education, road infrastructure and housing, the government has said, adding that mining communities would be prioritised to benefit from these projects.
Further, part of the proceeds would also go to support the new National Development Bank, as well as the Ghana Infrastructure and Investment Fund.
The communication has been that, when listed, the Government of Ghana through the Mineral Income Investment Fund (MIIF) would be the majority shareholder with at least 51% of the shares.