Accra� Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the Ministerial Nominee for Information, Friday, said the Ghana News Agency (GNA) must be resourced to become a modern media organisation, with digital platforms to deliver quality information directly to the public.
This is to ensure that the information, which it delivers to the media houses, but are not utilised by them, could reach the public for decision making and nation building.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah was responding to questions from the Appointments Committee of Parliament, on his plans to revamp the state-owned wire service to carry out its mandate, which includes processing and disseminating information that promote national development, foster national unity and projects the African personality.
The nominee, who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ofoase Ayirebi, in the Eastern Region, is among four ministers and two deputy ministers appointed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo to serve in new capacities after he reshuffled of his government.
The Minority Leader of Parliament, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, had asked for his Ministry’s specific plans to help the Agency, which is a parastatal, to get the requisite resources to thrive.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah said the Ministry was exploring the possibility of accessing both state funds and private capital for the recapitalisation of the Agency.
He explained that the reliance on the GNA by both local and international media houses had reduced as the organisations themselves were continually sending people to the field to gather information.
However, the GNA, he said, was well positioned to help in explaining government policies to the public and eliciting their feedback for informed decision making to promote good governance and national progress.
Alhaji Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak, the Minority Chief Whip; and Mr Daniel Nii Titus-Glover, the MP for Tema East, both expressed concern about the resource deprivation of the GNA over the years, and urged the nominee to work towards reversing the trend.
Alhaji Muntaka, who is also the MP for Asawase, asked him to work with the Director of Communications at the Presidency, to prioritise the inclusion of the GNA correspondent and other journalists from the State-owned media houses in the President’s Foreign trips to enable them to deliver on their public service mandate.
He said the practice at the Presidency over the years of rather sending journalists from the private media was an unnecessary drain on the public purse.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah said he had taken the advice in good faith; although it was common practice for presidents around the world to include private media practitioners on their foreign trips.
Answering questions on the addressing the complaints about media excesses and tyranny, Mr Oppong Nkrumah said the majority of media houses were delivering to standard.
However, there were a few who were performing below par, saying the Ministry was, therefore, working towards a Media Capacity Enhancement Programme to help improve content and professionalism.
It is, thus, having engagements with the School of Communication Studies, the Ghana Journalists Association, the National Media Commission, the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association and other stakeholders for that cause.
The focus would be on strengthening capacities in Production, Analytics, Editorial and Specialisation.
He explained that the Ministry investigated the challenges in implement ting the Media Development Fund that was introduced by the previous administration and realised that the Capacity Enhancement Programme would be a better alternative.
On addressing issues of defamation and fake news, the nominee said the existing laws must be enforced as a deterrent.
However, he said Kenya had legislated against the spreading of fake news with a Cyber Security Threat Law, which dealt with offenders.
He would, therefore, recommend that Ghana considered a similar one.
The nominee also answered questions on resourcing the Information Service Department and harmonising government information, saying legislations, capacity building programmes and technological support were being considered.
The other nominees are Mrs Cynthia Morrison, Minister-designate for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ms Paulina Tangaba Abayage, Minister-designate for the Upper East Region, Mr Evans Opoku Bobie, Minister-designate for Brong Ahafo Region, Mr Martin Oti Gyarko, Deputy Minister-designate for Brong Ahafo Region; and Mr Samuel Nuertey Ayertey, Deputy Minister-designate for the Eastern Region.
Source: Ghana News Agency