By Gifty Arthur
The Flagstaff House, the seat of government, has cautioned appointees to be wary of calls they receive or make while on national assignment or private visits abroad, so not to bring unnecessary and excessive phone bills unto the state.
Some ministers and other appointees of government, have therefore, resorted to other means of communication, rather than phone calls which is very expensive when one uses his or her local Ghanaian number abroad.
Mahama Ayariga, now Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, inadvertently revealed the warning from The Flagstaff House on Sunday, March 22, 2015 through his Facebook wall after announcing he was going to be out of the country for a period of six days.
There are over 85 ministers and deputy ministers, and each has MTN mobile number paid by the government. The number of the government appointees on state-sponsored phone is unknown. It is also unknown, whether some sacked government appointees were still on their official phone numbers and whether or not government was paying for them.
The reassigned Minister for Youth and Sports, before traveling abroad recently, advised his friends, families and all interested parties, to reach him on either via text message or whatsapp, a social media platform so as to help him cut down cost for government.
It is not yet clear how much government have had to pay MTN and Vodafone by way of phone bills incurred by ministers, heads of departments and agencies. But recently, it was discovered that the interdicted State Housing Company (SHC) boss, Dr. Mark Nii Akwei Ankrah, spent a little below GH¢40, 000 each month.
Unfortunately, the Bawku Central Member of Parliament (MP), after posting why ideally, he couldn’t entertain such phone calls, later edited his comment replacing it with “I am abroad for 6 days. All those who desire to reach me should text or preferably Wassap (sic) ` adding “I am mindful of the international phone calls when abroad to reduce excessive phone bills. Thanks. Mahama Ayariga (MP)”, removing the Flagstaff House bit in his earlier post.
This comes at the time when the John Mahama-led government, has been bashed for spending beyond it means and also at a time when the nation’s economy is almost on it knees, leading to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme to bring the economy back on track.
Two years ago, The Flagstaff House, placed a ban on the use of air conditions in the offices by staffers in a bid to check high electric bills.
Ministries, department and agencies, were also later moved unto the prepaid electric meters also to check excessive bills and wastage. It is not clear, how much has been saved by this initiative.
Unnecessary trips abroad by Ministers and other appointees which came with huge traveling allowances, were also reduced considerably during the time tenure of ex-Chief of Staff, Prosper Douglas Bani.
Again it is not clear how much money has been saved from that as well.