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Special Assistants have no place in the Civil Service – Governance expert

A governance lecturer is warning against the use of special assistants and aides by ministers, stating such practice could threaten the country’s civil service system

Mr. Farrison  Kofi Belley of the Evangelical Presbyterian University College, argued the practice which has crept into the governance system, has no place whatsoever in the hierarchy in the civil service hence should not be allowed to fester.

“They [special assistants and aides] have no place in the hierarchy of the civil service,” he said, adding “These will bring about some distortions in the structure”.

The Civil and Local Government Staff Association of Ghana (CLOGSAG) which has raised objection to the practice, claiming their jobs have been taken over by those engaged as special assistants and aides by ministers.

Read: CLOGSAG mulls strike over political appointees

They have threatened to strike over the matter.

But the deputy Labour and Employment Minister has justified the enagement of special assistants by some ministers, explaining they play key technical roles in assisting ministers to execute their mandate.

He rejected the claim that these assistants and aides have taken over the responsibilities of civil servants in the various ministries they work.

These assistants, he also said, are paid from the pockets of the ministers who engage them.

Notwithstanding, Mr Kofi Belley said the practice breeds an unfair system which will eventually distort the structure of the civil service.

“These special assistants who have not gone through structure of the civil and local governance service are placed above chief directors at the various ministries.

“Where do they fit into the hierarchy? Who are they responsible to? Who is to report to them? Who are their subordinates?” he quizzed.

He said ministers must be compelled to draw their personal assistants from the members of the civil service, who he said have gone through the necessary governance structure.

“With the current structure, the special aides and assistants have no place so what needs to be done is that the ministers must fall on these civil servants,” he advised, indicating that is the structure.

Mr. Kofi Belley contended that the fact that special assistant are paid from ministers’ pockets does not absolve them from wrongdoing.

In his view, even if personal assistants are paid from private pockets, they still use office spaces, cars and other facilities  in the ministries which are still charged on the state.

For ministers requiring personal assistants, he said they should make a for one to be engaged for them through the recruitment processes of the civil service.

BY P.D Wedam||Ghana

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