John Mahama protected the Public Purse

Another cost cutting measure was the allocation of saloon cars to some category of appointees for official use within Accra and its environs.

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Effective governance, as often simply explained, is about how prudent those entrusted with the public purse utilize the resources for the benefit of all.

The governance style of former President H.E. John Dramani Mahama exemplified prudence with the needs of the masses in mind. As a result, he took a decision to cut down on the benefits and privileges of his appointees which, is often not talked about in the public discourse.
After he was sworn in as President on January 7th 2013, he continued with Late Professor Mills policy of introducing fuel requisition books, replacing the fuel coupons system which was very much abused.

Many appointees, with the exception of some key Ministers, were no longer given fuel coupons but fuel requisition books which clearly stated the appointees’ weekly allocation as stated in the appointment letters. One was made to fill out the receipt book and a minimum of two Directors signing it off before the fuel pump station attendants at the castle could serve you with the required allocation. With this arrangement, if you ran out of fuel before the week ended before your next allocation date, then you had to buy your own fuel from your private finances. The withdrawal of the coupon system indeed saved the public purse of millions of Ghana cedis.

Another cost cutting measure was the allocation of saloon cars to some category of appointees for official use within Accra and its environs.

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There was a policy where staffers and some Deputy Ministers were allocated with only saloon cars some of which were used ones. This category of appointees was not given V8 Landcruisers. One could only apply to the Chief of Staff for a Landcruiser if you were undertaking a long journey and if approved; one was made available to you and must be returned to the Flagstaff House immediately upon return and in the same condition it was allocated to you.

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The former President even went further, early in his presidency, to cancel the biweekly allocation of many crates of assorted drinks, toiletries, beverages, sugar etc. to appointees and only allowed just two cartons of bottled water, for your office, every two weeks. One of the Directors at the Presidency told me that the former President stated clearly that since other civil and public servants were not given this allocation every two weeks, he did not understand why political appointees who were also public servants should enjoy this privilege.

There was the deliberate policy of 10% salary cut of appointees to raise funds for the construction of a Community Health-Based Planning Services (CHPS) compound for deprive rural communities lacking access to healthcare.

Of course in a situation like this, not everybody would be happy with these cost cutting or austerity measures but they are necessary so government could save up to provide infrastructure, the needs of the people and other budgetary commitments.

If you were wondering how he was able to achieve so much with so little resources available to him, this partly explains it but this is not all. These are privileges his appointees were denied enjoyment of in the service of their country. He undertook these austere measures using his own appointees to set the tone and with the mind that Ghanaians entrusted the public purse into and under his care and therefore must not be used to benefit a privileged few.

Seidu Kpebu
Writer is a former Presidential Aide
Twitter: @kpebu

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