Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Workshop suggests Presidential Estates Unit

Participants at a workshop to refine portions of the Transition Bill on Wednesday stressed the need for the establishment of a Presidential Estates Unit to be in-charge of keeping inventory of government assets and properties.
     This, they argued, would end accusations that state property and assets had been stolen by previous governments as had characterized transitions.
     To be headed by an Administrator-General, the Estates Unit would ensure that the assets and properties of the government were maintained in good condition at all times.
     The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and the Ghana Political Parties Programme (GPPP) drew up the Presidential Transition Bill aimed at smoothening the country's transition process from one government to the other.
     It is envisaged that the Bill would become a framework that would spell out which political and public office holders lose their jobs on the assumption of office of a new president, guidelines for the treatment of appointees of the former government and end of service benefits, among others.
     This, it is hoped, would end polarisation and acrimony that had become the bane of previous transitions.
     Apart from 2001 in which the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government constitutionally transferred power to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government and this year when the NPP handed over to the NDC, all other transitions since independence were through coups d'etat.
     Nana Ato Dadzie, a private legal practitioner, said an office in-charge of procuring, securing and keeping inventory of assets would save any incoming government the hassle of finding out from the previous administration the status of government assets.
     He said since the Unit would be in-charge of the assets it would be easy for them to furnish new governments with records of assets and properties.
     Nana Dadzie said it was important that the guidelines were passed by Parliament to be a blue print for any future transition.
     Mr Laary Bimi, Chairperson of the National Commission on Civic Education, said the election period must be looked at to allow enough time for the transition.
     He said there was also need to put into law the benefits to be enjoyed by ex-presidents to ensure uniformity and a clear list of officers that must go when the president left office.
     Mr Bimi said a more harmonious transfer of power from one administration to another in a manner that did not introduce needless strain between the winner and the loser would help forge national reconciliation, lowering of political tension and promotion of inter-party cooperation.
     Mr Kwamena Ahwoi, a lecturer at GIMPA, said a look must also be taken at the vacuum created in the administration of the country when a new government assumed office since Ministers would then not have been in position.
     Other issues that engaged the attention of participants were election of Speaker, the time of swearing in of President-Elect, handing over notes and transitional positions.

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