General News of Wednesday, 1 February 2017
The government has signaled its commitment to amend sections of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 to make corruption a felony instead of a misdemeanour.
The move is part of measures being undertaken by the government to make corruption unattractive in the country.
Declaring the commitment of the government to fight corruption at the launch of “Good corporate governance initiative” by the Action Chapel International in Accra, the Vice President, Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, said “we will amend relevant section of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), particularly sections 3:151 and 239 to 257 to make corruption a felony rather than a misdemeanour.”
The event that brought together players in both public and private sector was on the theme: “Accelerating Ghana’s development through transparency and integrity – from talk to action.”
Public Procurement Act
Dr Bawumia also hinted that government was determined to strictly enforce the Public Procurement Act, (Act 663) to ensure transparency.
The Act, in his opinion, was most abused and, therefore, there was the need to bring sanity into the public procurement.
“The resort to sole sourcing of contracts is now the rule rather than the exception. The way the Act was designed, sole sourcing was not supposed to be as rampant as it is today,” he said.
The Vice President said there was the need for transparency, adding that the bidding process needed to be made public on the website so that everybody would know who was bidding and how much.
“It will help us. It will help Ghana and it will help emphasise the issue of value for money,” he added.
Citing an instance where the residency of the Vice President, which was under construction, was quoted at $13.9 million, Dr Bawumia said he was convinced that the project did not go through competitive bidding and wondered why a single house could cost so much.
He hinted that the government intended to implement the recommendations of the Auditor-General’s Report to the fullest in order to retrieve public funds embezzled by some individuals.
Alhaji Dr Bawumia noted that there were a number of Auditor-General’s reports with billions of money that needed to be refunded to the state.
“We also intend to bring an end to the prevailing regime of impunity, where people found to have stolen or fraudulently benefited from public fund are merely requested by the Attorney-General to refund some or pay on their own terms,” he said.
He announced that the government was still committed to its campaign promises, noting that during the 2016 electioneering, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo sent a strong signal about the importance of good and transparent governance for sustainable development.
“In government, we are still committed to the establishment of solid efficient machinery for good governance that comprises accountable government and respect for the rule of law and human rights,” Alhaji Dr Bawumia said.
He reiterated government’s commitment to prosecuting good governance by establishing an Act of Parliament and office of a Special Prosecutor, who would be independent of the Executive, to investigate and prosecute certain categories of cases and alleged corruptions.
Alhaji Dr Bawumia announced that the government would enhance accountability by promoting effective separation of powers, while adequate provisions would be made to secure the independence of the Judiciary.
National Identification system
He said in seeking transparency in governance, there was the need for national identification data base, “because the government is convinced that the National ID scheme will help formalise the economy.”
Alhaji Dr Bawumia believed that the successful implementation of the national identification system would impact on the work of the corporate bodies.
Outlining the benefits, he said with the national identification system, corporate bodies could use it to check the background of applicants, the criminal records of people as well as help in resolving some of the challenges facing financial institutions in the country.
Corruption as pervasive
The US Ambassador to Ghana, Ambassador Robert Jackson, said corruption was a pervasive problem in the world, including the United States, adding that the time was ripe to fight against the canker.
He said the system should be able to prosecute corrupt practices and pledged the US willingness to support President Akufo-Addo in his effort to fight corruption.
The Founder and General Overseer of the Action Chapel International, Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams, in a message read on his behalf, appealed to corporate Ghana to support the initiators of the project to succeed.
He said an important focus in the initiative was the adoption of daily practices by organisations to ensure that all officers, staff and stakeholders abided by what was right.
The Chief of Staff of the Action Chapel International and Pastor in-charge of the Airport Residential Area, Rev. Kennedy Okosun, explained that the initiative was by Archbishop Duncan-Williams, in partnership with Krif Ghana Ltd, the US Embassy, the American Chamber of Commerce and LeadAfrique International.