Bar Association charged to offer pro-bono to empower Ghanaians

A member of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) Dr Steve Manteaw has called on the Ghana Bar Association to encourage its members to undertake pro-bono legal cases in support of public interest litigation. 

He said the continues complain about the blatant violation of the laws by duty bearers is enough cause for innocent citizens to go to court to seek redress but many are financially constrained. 

Dr. Manteaw believes if such legal openings are made available and affordable to Ghanaians, anyone who believes the law has been broken will be encouraged to walk into any legal firm, solicit their help and advice in order to fight a case that may be in the interest of the country.

He said this at a workshop organised for journalists by the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalist (IFEJ), in conjunction with the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) and funded by GIZ/SECO

Dr Manteaw who is not happy about how contracts are signed by public institutions on behalf of Ghanaians said the problem with bad contracts has more to do with lack of integrity than competence.

He said Ghanaians have the technical competence to negotiate good contracts but a lot of the time they are motivated by personal gains.

The PIAC member believes this has continued over the years because the contracts have always been negotiated at the blind side of Ghanaians.

It is only when the damage has been caused that the details of the contracts are made, he noted

He said the time has come to move from opacity in drafting of contracts to open transparent processes.

“I am happy the new Exploration and Production Act passed in August 2016 commits this country to open competitive bidding,” Dr Manteaw noted.

He also cited the Companies Act of 1963, which he said has played a crucial role in ensuring transparency in the drafting of contracts.  

“Under the amended act, companies are to disclose the real beneficial owners of the stake they hold in oil contracts in fact the law is applicable to every sector of the national economy and it has the objective of unearthing instances of conflict of interest”.