Lack of strong desire and commitment to fight corruption among political leadership is the bane confronting national development, the Executive Director of the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy, Mr Andrew Awuni, has said.
“There is not enough desire and commitment to face corruption issues head-on, hence issues of corruption are on the increase,” he said.
Mr Awuni was throwing more light on the Auditor-General’s report on the Public Accounts of Ghana (Consolidated Fund) for 2011 in an interview with the Daily Graphic.
Sharing some revelations of wanton dissipation of public funds as had been recorded in the 2011 Auditor General’s Report on the Consolidated Account, he insisted that “until we make the fight against corruption a priority, shortfall in revenue generation will continue to reign.”
He, therefore, challenged the government and Parliament to give the Auditor General’s reports the same prominence as they always gave to the presentation of annual budgets.
“We challenge the government, Parliament and the media, in particular, to run commentaries and educate the public on the matters contained in the Auditor General’s reports as they have been doing to the annual budgets and let’s see if the general public will give them the nod to approve the new taxes,” he told the Daily Graphic.
According to Mr Awuni, the government could get more money than it was seeking to get through new taxes by just going back to recoup the numerous outstanding receivables from individuals and companies that governments had either granted loans to or held equity in.
“We know, for example, that Ghana’s 10 per cent shares in some 10 mining and oil and gas companies in the country, some dating as far back as 1995, are still not on record; they have not been disclosed to the Public Account Committee and no returns have come to Ghana even by the close of 2011, and yet these companies are operating in Ghana,” he stated.
Section 43 of the Minerals Act (2006) Act 703 states that where a mineral right is for mining or exploration, the government shall require a 10-per cent free carried interest in the right and obligation of the mineral operations in respect of which financial contribution shall not be paid by the government.
According to the Auditor General’s Report of 2011, Ghana’s equity in 10 mining and petroleum companies that were granted mining rights to engage in mining or exploration activities over the years has not been disclosed.
Again there is no system in place to account for the returns on these investments over the years.
For these reasons, Mr Awuni pointed out that the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy could not side with the government and Parliament on approval and implementation of the new taxes and increases of old taxes to make up for the shortfall in revenue.
“Let us not give the impression that we are only interested in collecting taxes but we do not want to account for their use,” Mr Awuni lamented.
Last week, Parliament approved new taxes. They are the stabilisation levy, the import fees, excise duties, the communication services tax and several other taxes (Cutlasses and Outboard motors inclusive).
By Kobby Asmah/Daily Graphic/Ghana
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