The GII Consortium, comprising the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) and Send Ghana, has called on the Parliament of Ghana to make compulsory, the verification and publication of assets owned by state officials across the country when reviewing the new Assets Declaration Regime.
According to GII, ‘A review of the regime under the Conduct of Public Officers’ Act without a mandatory requirement of verification and publication will, therefore, mark such backward progress in a democracy as such declarations were gazetted even under Ghana’s Provisional National Defence Council’s (PNDC’s) military regime.’
The GII at the end of its Consortium’s ‘Experts’ Workshop on Anti-corruption Law Reforms in Ghana’, held at the Coconut Grove Regency Hotel recently, urged legislators ‘to bear this in mind as they resume consideration of these two bills—the Conduct of Public Officers’ Bill and the Right to Information Bill.’
Meanwhile, the anti-corruption body in a statement released and signed by its Executive Director, Vitus Adaboo Azeem, and copied to DAILY GUIDE, argued that it was insufficient for state officials to simply declare their assets without members of the general public having the opportunity to verify them.
This, GII said, was because it was members of the public who are expected to report of new acquisitions ‘undeclared and which may have been procured through acts of corruption’ and so if they (members of the public) were not adequately informed, it was likely that state officials might secretly use state funds in acquiring their private assets.
‘If there is no verification by the custodian and publication of such Assets, for example in the gazette, how would members of the public get to know what is declared in order to complain if at all?’ GII queried.
The principles of transparency and accountability, it said, ‘require nothing less than both verification and publication of the declared Assets of public officers if the intended mischief the law seeks to cure is to be achieved.’
Furthermore, GII argued that ‘While the bill, in accordance with Article 287 of the 1992 Constitution, invites any person who alleges that a public officer has contravened a provision of this Act to make a report/complaint in accordance with Article 287, it nevertheless retrogressively still makes the Assets declared and kept with the Auditor General confidential information, which must be kept as such.’
It therefore pushed for the review process to pay considerable attention to the aspects of verification and publication.
GII has also encouraged members of the public and the media in particular to impress upon Members of Parliament (MPs) ‘to avoid a reproduction of yet another self-serving worthless piece of legislation.’
BY Melvin Tarlue & Kevin Trevellyan
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