The Appointments Committee of Parliament has just finished with the vetting of Vice-President-designate, Mr Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, in a rare duty call for the Committee.
Mr Amissah-Arthur was nominated for the position last Tuesday from a list of key contenders including Mr P.V Obeng and Dr Kwesi Botchwey by President John Mahama, who ascended to the presidency following the untimely death of President John Atta Mills on July 24, 2012.
The over-three hours vetting session saw the former Governor of the Bank of Ghana answer questions on the falling value of the cedi, corruption, his sexuality and the economy generally.
Below are some of the submissions he made and happenings surrounding his vetting as captured in our live updates.
Joy News' Parliamentary Correspondent, Sammy Darko, reported that the nominee was already in the House holding in-camera meeting with members of the Appointments Committee, apparently to agree on the modalities of the vetting.
A younger brother of the Vice-President-designate, Jabez Amissah-Arthur, told Joy News the nominee was an excellent professional who would excel at the vetting.
He described the nominee as a humble and loving brother who brings the family together.
There was a busy scene at the forecourt of Parliament with a platoon of journalists positioning themselves for the event.
Parliamentarians, family, friends, government officials were all present.
Mother eulogises son
Mr Amissah-Arthur's mother described him as a selfless person who detests selfishness.
She said "he treats everybody as himself…he’ll give whatever he has, he’s a person to trust, I thrust him. I pray that God should give him wisdom and vision."
She was worried about the tempestuous nature of Ghana politics; "the insults…this is why I don’t like the politics but I’m sure God will use him to do things right in Ghana."
She prayed God will "give him whatever he needs to be a selfless man who will think more his country than himself."
"I told him I give him my blessings and I support him in prayers…don’t listen to what Ghanaians will say about you. I know that the Lord who called you will see you through."
Ablakwa: We have no doubt he will excel, he comes to the interview with a lot of experience. He always likes to be in the background. This is a platform to show what he’s made of; to let people change their impression about him. Parliament's Appointment Committee should show some consistency and not that at some point others would be vetted in-camera. I believe that parliament will approach this vetting with discretion in terms of questions they will allow.
Ama Benyiwa-Doe He’s someone I’ve know for a long time...he is cool, collected, intelligent; there’s no doubt he can be the unifying factor; he can bite when he has to. If the party is able to unite behind him, it will inure to our benefit.
Kofi Konadu Apreku: This is a very historic occasion. I worked very close with him on Talking Point in the '90s and I want to hear from him what he wants to say. I’m not surprised because he’s a serious member of the NDC party. What I’m interested in is his view and how it affects the economy. NPP has a very good ticket but we will not assume anybody who is the NDC’s candidate is less of a threat. He has a record to defend – cedi depreciating close to 89% in three-and-a-half years.
KT Hammond: I don’t understand what this whole furore is all about, the constitution is quite clear on this… the procedure will be nothing different, we will go about it as always.
Mr Amissah-Arthur has taken his seat.
Committee members are seated.
He is taking oath.
Committee Chairman, Doe Adjaho welcomes him to vetting.
Making opening remarks. Committee's decision to hold public hearing of vetting was condemned by some in the public.
We accept condemnation but reject criticism's based on falsehoods.
Claims that Committee is inconsistent are unacceptable.
Claims that Chief Justice Georgina Wood was vetted in-camera are false.
Vetting National Security Coordinator in-camera was in accordance with best practice.
Decision to vet Amissah-Arthur in public was one taken by both Majority and Minority sides on the Committee.
Let us do our best in strengthening the institutions of governance.
Minority Leader, Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu:
We find ourselves in unprecedented times that is why people have condemned our decision.
We here seated are convinced that we have chosen the right path.
As the Charman has explained, wherever is called upon to approve anything, it calls for scrutiny.
Presidential candidates and their running mates subject themselves to scrutiny during election campaigns so the people scrutinise them.
But today, under the circumstances, the people have no opportunity to scrutinise the nominee so it is only proper that the the people's representatives scrutinise the nominee.
He is also giving a long history of vice presidential vettings in the United States.
Some have argued that in deference to the office of the vice president, vetting should not be in public but we respectfully disagree.
Let me concede that the transition of an incumbent president in Ghana has no ancestry but it is important to set standards that are worth emulating.
Mr Chairman I am done.
We respect your office as Vice-President so if we ask you any questions concerning the economy whose answers might endanger the economy let us know; we will take your answers in-camera.
Are you a Ghanaian by birth? Deputy Minority Leader Ambrose Dery asked.
"Yes I am," he answered.
Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi: Your CV looks like parts were hurriedly put together. There are some spelling mistakes, and then you didn’t indicate where you can be located.
In 1983, I was paid by the university but working for the government at the finance ministry because the allowances paid by government to the PNDC secretaries at the time was woefully insufficient so I opted to be paid by the university.
General outlook of the economy is good.
KT: reads text about Amissah's comment on Mfantsiman girls which said: tell him Mfantsiman girls take exception to the claims that they are responsible for the spelling mistakes on your CV.
KT says to the nominee, Kenkey sells at one cedi, gari, plantain, cassava, all the staples, everything, cedi is 2:1 to the Dollar; Are you happy about the state of the economy?
Nominee: The economy has also chalked great success but prices are high. However for the first time in this country, there has been single-digit inflation for over 24 months consistently.
The general level of prices have not risen.
MP for Ho Central: Do you think the security services are well catered for and are ready for the elections? How sufficiently poised are you for them?
I don’t understand your question and how you expect me to answer but I know they are professionals and have sworn an oath and know what to do.
MP for Abuakwa South – Atta Akyea: Can you tell the whole country since you assumed the office as governor, the financial advice you proferred to government regarding the currency.
Amissah: We took decisions on the monetary policy rate and did a number of things to secure the exchange rate.
Question: Is there any economy in the world where one cannot access their own money in dollar, are you not giving room for suits against the banks?
Amissah: In many countries – like South Africa – you can’t take dollar at the counter. Whatever amount one wants has to be changed into cedis. Everybody was pricing in dollars so we had to change the rules.
BoG did not receive any instructions from the late president not to pay. But people hold their accounts with us and if an account holder gives us instructions to pay, we cannot refuse to pay.
MP for Manhyia: BoG Act 2002 tasks you to license, regulate and supervise non-banking institutions, but Onward Investments worked for two years and BoG didn’t see, hear or feel. Why is that?
Amissah: Onward investment was an illegal entity so how can you supervise it? If someone is giving you a yield of 1000% which is too good to be true, the people must stay clear away from such an institution.
Sampson Ahi: Why are interest rates so high?
Answer: The interest rates have been one of the problems. When I took office there were wide variations in interest rates amongst banks.
We tried to inform people of this so they would shop for loans but this didn't change the situation. We started a formula we think will result in reduction in interest rates.
MP for Lower Manya Krobo: How far has Ghana come, as far as attaining the convergence criteria for the creation of the West Africa Common currency, the Eco, and is the Eco Project feasible?
Amissah-Arthur: Ghana has done well in especially the last two years, achieving two out of the three main points in attaining the convergence criteria. The sub-regional body has to be careful in designing the common currency. In Europe, countries are grappling with their common currency so we have to be careful that we don't allow a small nation to create problems for all of us.
Dominic Azumah: I have no question, Mr Chairman.
Hackman Owusu-Agyemang: Your explanations on the question of interest rates leaves much to be desired. You set the prime rate but year-in-year-out, the banks have shown interests of over 100 per cent but SME sector make losses because of high interest rates. If you have a prime rate of 16 per cent and yet banks set base rates of 23 per cent, has the Bank of Ghana lived up to its responsibility as a supervisor? What will and can you do as vice president to change the situation where banks offer loans with strangulating interest.
Amissah-Arthur: I share your concerns but you have to avert your mind to the fact that when we administered interest rates in this country, it led to the collapse of banks.
I agree with you that we need to work out systems where economic fundamentals are stable to bring down interest rates.
Hackman: The criticism of your nomination by a member of government is gross indiscipline. What will you do with this indiscipline?
Amissah-Arthur: Well it is good for the party, different people make their voices heard.
MP for Ayawaso West-Wougon: How come inflation is single digit yet prices are rising?
Amissah: Because 8% is positive. Prices are rising but at a slower rate.
Joseph Boahen-Aidoo: Why is the cedi's health deteriorating?
Amissah-Arthur: We have unprecedented levels of imports. Also, people out of anxiety, try to move capital out of the country.
Question: Can you inform the Committee of your personal assets?
Committee Chairman intervenes; Constitution is clear as to who is responsible for checking people's properties. If your question is about property you think was acquired illegally, you can ask your question in that regard.
Question: Do you agree that excessive corruption can cause the cedi to depreciate?
Amissah-Arthur: I don't know what response to give but I think we all have to work to minimise corruption.
MP for Zabzugu-Tatale: Having been Governor of BoG for almost three years, looking at the rate at which the cedi is galloping against the dollar, what can you do as vice president to arrest the situation?
Amissah-Arthur: With my experiences, I will bring people together to work to save the situation. We will draw out solutions that will inure to the benefit of the people.
Do you have NDC membership card?
Amissah-Arthur: Yes, I have more than one NDC Membership cards.
Joe Osei-Owusu: Corruption has been a major challenge to good governance. The mode of procurement in the last three years has mainly been sole-sourcing. What is your take on that?
Amissah-Arthur: I don't know if it is correct to say the main mode of procurement is sole-sourcing. But the best thing is not to use sole-sourcing.
Joe Osei-Owusu: There are publications about your sexuality, if you wish to comment, please do.
Amissah-Arthur: It is absolutely untrue. There are people who think that as Governor of the Bank of Ghana, I have access to unlimited resources and when they come to me I should fetch money for them. I have this former schoolmate who came to me for money and I refused so he decided to go out there and fabricate these false stories about me. I had never lived in a house with a garage so to claim that I had an affair in a garage can only be false. This gentleman I hadn't seen him for over forty years; I met with him only briefly and gave him some small money. People do these things thinking that somebody will come and give them money but I am not going to pay money to anybody. This has been going on for six months. My lawyers have been following up on this case and the thing is that they don't mention my name.
Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu: Where would you want to be buried if you die?
Amissah-Arthur: I want to see my great grand children so it is a question that I have never thought about.
Kyei-Mensah: Were you officially seconded from the University?
Amissah-Arthur: The university was closed and yet we were paid. So we were paid for doing nothing.
Kyei-Mensah: Have you resigned from the BoG?
Amissah-Arthur: Because I don't know what decision you will take, I will keep that job and wait for your decision. But whatever happens, I don't think that I can go back to the bank because I have shown a partisan stand and going back will make the bank suffer - something I don't want to do.
Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu: Do you have an NDC card?
Amissah-Arthur: I have been a foundation member of the NDC. I know where the original flag of the NDC is because I bought the paint for the flag to be painted.
Amissah-Arthur (middle) answering questions from the Appointments Committee of Parliament