General News of Friday, 3 March 2017
A legal practitioner has suggested that government’s attempt to elevate the sanctions for corruption from misdemeanor to felony is unnecessary.
Samson Lardy Anyenini is convinced the law which government seeks to amend has already been taken care of under the Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Act, 1965 (Act 261) which elevated corruption offences from misdemeanor to felony with a minimum of five years and a maximum of 25 years.
His comments are in reaction to the promise by the Minister of Finance to make corruption a costly enterprise by elevating the sanctions for corruption from misdemeanor to felony.
Under fighting corruption, the Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta in his budget statement Thursday stated:
“Mr. Speaker, as we have said severally, “corruption holds back economic growth, increases the cost of doing business, reduces revenue to the state, leads to capital flight, and inflates the cost of running government. It also results in a loss of legitimacy and respect for legally constituted authority.”
“In this regard, Government will continue the implementation of National Anti-corruption Action Plan. Additionally, Government will pursue a combination of institutional and legislative reform as part of our anticorruption policy, including establishing the Office of the Special Prosecutor, strictly applying the provisions in the PFM and PPA Acts, as well as amend, in particular, sections 3, 151 and 239-257 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), which will make corruption a felony instead of a misdemeanor.”
But speaking to Myjoyonline.com Friday, Samson Lardy Anyenini insists, except the government wants to make corruption offences a first degree felony which has a punishment of life sentence, it will be unnecessary to make it a second degree felony because the law has already been amended in 1965.
Sections 3, 151 and 239-257 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), talks lucidly about corrupt practices but the punishment for such offences was just misdemeanor which takes a maximum 3 years sentence without hard labour.
But Lardy Anyenini said the punishment for such corrupt practices has already been elevated to felony under Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Act, 1965 (Act 261) and it takes a maximum of 25 years prison sentence.
Lardy Anyenini however maintains that if government truly wants to fight corruption and make it a truly costly enterprise the law to use is Government Contract Protection Act 1979.
He explained that procurement is the chief vehicle through which many public officers pilfer state resources and the contract protection act will appropriately deal with that.
Under that law, Lardy said if found guilty, corrupt public officers will be asked to refund up to three times the value of the contract they pilfered.
As if that is not enough, he said, there is a possible ten year jail term for such offenders.
He wants the government to be really stringent in its fight against corruption.