Dome-Kwabenya Member of Parliament (MP), Sarah Adwoa Safo, has revealed that she drives vehicles produced by her father’s Kantanka Automobile Company Limited, a subsidiary of the Kantanka Group of Companies.
Speaking during her vetting by the Appointments Committee of Parliament as Minister of State-designate for Public Procurement yesterday, the Deputy Majority Leader said, “I am driving daddy’s car and I must tell you that the pick-ups are already there – there has been the first model, the second model, and the third model – and to also inform this honourable house that I just do not have a car of my dad’s; my children use my dad’s cars for school; my constituency has a Kantanka pick-up that my organiser uses, and I also have my personal one. Daddy is pampering me small so he has given me three.”
Ms Adwoa Safo and three other ministers of state took their turns at the vetting.
The others are Professor Kwesi Yankah, who is designated for Tertiary Education; Dr. Nura Gyeile for the Agriculture Ministry and Brian Acheampong, Minister of State-designate at the office of the President.
Ms Adwoa Safo said the government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo would not engage in sole-sourcing in the award of contracts but would only do so under strict conditions.
According to her, this government would ensure absolute transparency, fairness and value for money in the award of contracts, especially, in cases that sole-sourcing is used.
“I will want to reiterate what has already been stated by His Excellency the President on our government’s position on procurement: in ensuring that there is transparency, fairness, non-discrimination, value for money and, to a very large extent, integrity in the procurement processes and the only way that we can best champion this cause is through open competitive tender.”
“So we believe that open competitive tendering is the way to go: open up the tendering process for as many that qualify or meet the specifications for the contract for which they want to bid,” she said.
However, she added, “Sole-sourcing is permitted under the Act, (Act 663), as amended by Act 914. It is a method that is acceptable under the Act and it is lawful but it is an exception to the rule rather than the general rule, if the condition precedent set out in the Act and the guidelines for sole-sourcing as developed by the PPA are met. And so we will only advise that those conditions are satisfied.”
“Sole-sourcing is a method that is justified under the law, provided the conditions precedent exist,” the deputy majority leader said, adding, “We are able to satisfy [them]. We would [engage in sole-sourcing] where necessary, if the conditions are met.”
Safo, a lawyer, justified the decision of the Akufo-Addo government to create the position of the Minister of State in-charge of Public Procurement.
There is already a Chief Executive of the Public Procurement Authority who ensures that public institutions operate within the Public Procurement Act.
Answering questions about a potential clash of roles between her as procurement minister and the PPA, Adwoa Safo, who holds a Masters’ degree in Public Procurement, stressed that her work is to advise government. She will be an internal check within the government.
“No way will there be conflict with PPA. It will rather go on and empower it,” she told the committee.
Public procurement was a 2016 campaign issue, with the NPP accusing the NDC government of failing to ensure value for money in the cost of contracts and projects.
The then Minority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu had said that since the coming into force of the Public Procurement Act 663 (2003) more than 80 percent of the previous government’s contracts had been awarded through sole-sourcing.
Adwoa Safo stressed that the NPP government has put in place measures it believes will address the potential abuse of the law through sole-sourcing.
She said, government has placed a 50-million cedi ceiling for contracts awarded through sole-sourcing. Any cost beyond this level must be brought to cabinet for parliamentary approval, she said.
“I can assure Ghanaians we will minimise the use of sole-sourcing” Adwoa Safo said.
The Dome-Kwabenya MP also stressed the party’s policy direction that at least 30% of the required 70% of these contracts will be sourced to entities owned by youth, women and people living with disabilities.
The Deputy Minister-designate in-charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwesi Yankah, stated that he is a card-bearing member of the governing New Patriotic Party and not a sympathizer.
Prof, Vice Chancellor of Central University, answering questions during his vetting at the Committee, said he stopped being a sympathizer of the NPP long ago and is now a bonafide member of the political grouping.
“I stopped the sympagthiser thing long ago…I am a card-bearing member of the NPP,” the former pro-vice chancellor of the University of Ghana said.
Prof. Yankah also noted that most of the universities have veered off their core mandate for which they were established in order to raise revenue to manage the institutions.
“It is quite clear that many universities have evolved over the years and in so doing, they have left behind the original mandates for which they were established. University of Cape Coast was originally for science education; University of Ghana, Legon, started as a liberal arts institution. They eventually tended to roll out science and engineering programmes from their own experience.”
“It looks to me as if the public universities which were originally not struggling for survival have reached the point where they realise that government’s subvention has been going down and has moved away from the original practice where subventions were given even over five-yearly intervals to a point where even the yearly subventions are not coming forth as quickly as expected and they have to negotiate their way through getting subventions.”
“So this has compelled them to violate a norm that shouldn’t be violated by many such universities, namely: moving away from the differentiation and diversification that one would expect with several universities.”
“Everybody is developing programmes and courses apart from satisfying the national needs, but largely also to ensure that they survive as a university, that is a very unfortunate development and I think it is one area that we should be looking at,” he averred.
Another nominee, Bryan Acheampong, has raised serious concerns over the security of members of the country’s parliament.
“There’s a security threat,” warned Mr. Acheampong, who is also the Member of Parliament for Abetifi in the Eastern Region, when he appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament Monday to be vetted.
According to him, the security of the MPs could only be assured if those charged with the responsibility to protect the country’s law makers are disciplined.
“Most of what we face here is a clear case of indiscipline because the areas are marked. It’s incumbent on those who are tasked to ensure that security of the MPs is assured,” he told the Joe Osei-Owusu vetting committee.
He called for attitudinal change saying, “With some small attitudinal change I’m sure the basis of our security will be assured, but I wish to refer other plans to the parliamentary subcommittee on security to avoid revealing our safety in public for the ‘enemy’ to tap.”